While having a mammogram is an excellent first step in taking care of your breast health, sometimes further diagnostic examination is warranted. If your physician detects a suspicious area, often the only way to make a true diagnosis is to obtain a tissue sample and examine it under a microscope. Waiting for and undergoing another test can be anxiety-provoking. However, it really doesn’t have to be if you know what to expect.
What is an image-guided breast biopsy?
An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy uses sound waves to help locate a lump or abnormality and removes a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. The review of the collected cells by a pathologist who specializes in diagnosing disease, will determine if cancer cells or any other irregularities are visible. The procedure is less invasive than a surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring, and does not involve exposure to radiation. Radiologists use a variety of imaging techniques for biopsies. A mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI may be used. Based on which imaging technology will provide the best view of the area. The images allow the radiologist a clear view to ensure they are obtaining the right tissue as the biopsy is performed.
Different Forms of Image-Guided Biopsies
There isn’t just one type of biopsy. Understanding the different types helps patients know what to expect and feel more at ease. The most common biopsy types are:
● Fine-needle aspiration biopsy: Using ultrasound, a very thin needle is placed into a possible cyst to remove a small sample of fluid.
● Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy: Using ultrasound, a needle is guided into a mass to remove small cylinders of tissue (also called cores).
● Stereotactic biopsy: Using mammography, a small incision is made in the skin, and a special biopsy needle is inserted into the breast. With a vacuum-powered instrument, several tissue samples are taken of the suspicious mass or calcifications.
● MRI-guided biopsy. Using an MRI, a vacuum-powered instrument is used to obtain specific tissue from a suspicious area that is only visible with the MRI technology.
● 3D stereotactic biopsy. Using 3D mammography, a vacuum-powered instrument is used to obtain a core biopsy of abnormalities that can only be seen through the Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammogram imaging technology. This biopsy procedure is often faster than the standard stereotactic biopsy.
What to do after an image-guided breast biopsy procedure
● Make a plan to have someone drive you home following the test.
● Make sure the area in which the specimen was taken remains dry and clean, and follow the healthcare provider’s instructions on removing the bandages.
● The biopsy area may feel tender and sore. This is normal. Your physician will give you instructions for over-the-counter medications such as Advil or Tylenol which can help reduce discomfort. Find out if there are any medications you should avoid.
● Wear a bra for support and to help reduce the feeling of discomfort.
● Make sure to follow the instructions from the healthcare provider. All patients will be informed of the biopsy results within a few days after their procedure.
The radiologists at Connecticut Breast Imaging are ready to answer any questions you may have about biopsies, other testing, diagnostics, and treatment if needed. The practice’s mission is to not only provide exceptional diagnostics but to treat every patient with compassion and gently guide them through the process.
Visit the practice’s website, ctbreastimaging.org, for more information.