Minimally invasive breast biopsy is the standard of care today, replacing the open surgical biopsies of the past. When a biopsy is recommended to test for breast cancer, you may be able to choose a minimally invasive alternative to surgery known as image-guided needle biopsy. This is a technique that does not require surgery. When the lesion of concern is visible by ultrasound, ultrasound guided core biopsy is the technique of choice.
The patient lies on her back on the exam table. An ultrasound is then performed to localize the lesion in question. First, using ultrasound guidance, the skin, and tissue around the lesion is anesthetized with a local anesthetic. This allows the biopsy to be done without pain or discomfort.
After giving a local anesthetic, a small incision or opening is then made in the skin. A sterile biopsy needle is placed into or beneath the abnormal breast tissue. Ultrasound confirms the location of the needle in relation to the lesion.
Tissue samples are taken through the needle. It is common to take about three to five tissue samples. There are a number of biopsy instruments that can be utilized to obtain the tissue sample. They include core biopsy which uses a needle to obtain a piece of tissue about 1/16 inch across and 1/2 inch long, and a vacuum-assisted needle biopsy device (VAD), which uses vacuum suction to obtain a tissue sample. This tissue is then examined under the microscope to look for cancer cells. This part of the biopsy takes approximately 15 minutes.
Upon completion, sterile strips and a small adhesive bandage are applied to the skin. The entire procedure takes approximately 30 minutes. Typically, an ice pack and Tylenol/Motrin is usually all that is needed for post-procedure discomfort. Patients can resume normal activities typically within 24 hours. Results are usually available in three to five working days.
Minimally-invasive, core breast biopsies are the standard method for tissue sampling. Open surgical biopsy should be used only in instances when a minimally invasive, core biopsy cannot be performed.