Breast Biopsy

What is a Breast Biopsy?

Lumps or abnormalities in the breast are often detected by physical examination, mammography, or other imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells - involving a hollow needle - from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion, but most of a very small lesion may be removed in the process of biopsy.

Image-guided biopsy is performed when the abnormal area in the breast is too small to be felt, making it difficult to locate the lesion by hand (called palpation). In ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

Manatee Diagnostic Center offers the latest breast biopsy technology with our state-of-the-art Stereotactic Breast Biopsy System. Requiring only a tiny incision, this simple outpatient procedure minimizes discomfort and allows patients to immediately resume most normal activities. Supported by a highly skilled, ARRT-registered Mammographer, this technology brings the very latest breast care to you right here at Manatee Diagnostic Center.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy can be performed when a breast ultrasound shows an abnormality such as:

  • a suspicious solid mass
  • a distortion in the structure of the breast tissue
  • an area of abnormal tissue change

There are times when your doctor may decide that ultrasound guidance for biopsy is appropriate even for a mass that can be felt.

Manatee Diagnostic Center uses two biopsy procedures:

  • core needle (CN) which uses a large hollow needle to remove one sample of breast tissue per insertion.
  • vacuum-assisted device (VAD) which uses a vacuum powered instrument to collect multiple tissue samples during one needle insertion.

How does the procedure work?

Ultrasound imaging is based on the same principles involved in the sonar used by bats, ships and fishermen. When a sound wave strikes an object, it bounces back, or echoes. By measuring these echo waves it is possible to determine how far away the object is and its size, shape, and consistency (whether the object is solid, fi lled with fl uid, or both).

In medicine, ultrasound is used to detect changes in appearance of organs, tissues, and vessels or detect abnormal masses, such as tumors.

In an ultrasound examination, a transducer both sends the sound waves and records the echoing waves. When the transducer is pressed against the skin, it directs small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves into the body. As the sound waves bounce off of internal organs, fl uids and tissues, the sensitive microphone in the transducer records tiny changes in the sound’s pitch and direction. These signature waves are instantly measured and displayed by a computer, which in turn creates a real-time picture on the monitor. One or more frames of the moving pictures are typically captured as still images.

Using an ultrasound probe to visualize the location of the breast lump, the radiologist inserts a biopsy needle through the skin, advances it into the mass and removes tissue samples. If a surgical biopsy is being performed, ultrasound may be used to guide a wire directly into the mass to help the surgeon locate the area for excision. With continuous ultrasound imaging, the physician is able to view the biopsy needle or wire as it advances to the location of the lesion in real-time.

After your procedure

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, know that you are not alone. Be confident. Breast cancer is highly treatable.

There are several different types of breast cancer, and treatment options depend on the kind of cancer, its stage (size and location) and whether it is found in other parts of the body. Consult with a physician to determine the treatment approach that is right for you or the woman in your life.

Treatments are tailored to each individual. Possible treatments include surgery and systemic, whole-body therapies. Advances are occurring all of the time, and a new specialty has emerged – oncoplastic surgery – which may give women the option to remove the cancer and reconstruct their breast or breasts in one step.

Remember, be an active part of your medical team!