McLaren Health Care
Minimally Invasive Breast Biopsy

What is a minimally invasive breast biopsy?

If a mammogram reveals an abnormality or lump, additional tests like ultrasound, mri or breast biopsies may be needed. Radiologists at McLaren Health Care perform minimally invasive, imaging-guided, breast biopsies to locate breast lumps or abnormalities and remove tissue samples for examination under a microscope.

Minimally invasive breast biopsies are performed using either ultrasound technology or digital mammography to help the radiologist locate the abnormality and remove a tissue sample. These techniques are known as:

  • Magnetic Resonance (MRI) - Guided Breast Biopsy - Magnetic resonance, or MR-guided breast biopsy uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and guide a needle to remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It does not use ionizing radiation and leaves little to no scarring.
  • Ultrasound-guided Breast Biopsy - This minimally invasive procedure uses ultrasound waves (ultrasound) to locate a breast lump or abnormality. It is less invasive than a surgical biopsy and leaves little to no scarring. Ultrasound imaging does not use ionizing radiation, which means the patient is not exposed to radiation during this procedure. McLaren is the only provider in the area to offer digital mammography, ultrasound and minimally invasive, diagnostic biopsies in one convenient location.
  • Breast Core Biopsy - This procedure is performed using a number of imaging modalities including ultrasound, MRI, and mammography.
  • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy - This minimally invasive procedure uses digital mammogram technology to help the radiologist locate a breast lump or abnormality and remove a tissue sample. This technique is less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring and can be an excellent way to evaluate calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible on ultrasound. It also aids in removing a small section of the suspicious tissue with pinpoint accuracy. The sample is sent to a pathologist, a physician specializing in the analysis of tissue samples under a microscope for diagnosis. The entire biopsy should take approximately one hour.

Preparing for Your Procedure (Breast Core Biopsy)

There are several things you can do to make your procedure easier and more efficient.

  • You should inform your doctor in advance of any medications you are currently taking whether prescription or over-the-counter. This includes aspirin, ibuprofen, blood thinners such as Coumadin, natural herbs, Vitamin E and other vitamins. Your doctor may advise you that some of these medications must be temporarily stopped several days prior to your biopsy.
  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to remove.
  • Avoid the use of deodorant, underarm powders or creams before the procedure. They may interfere with the quality of the images taken during your procedure.
  • Eat a light meal before your procedure.  

On the day of your procedure, you will be asked to undress and put on a gown to wear. The technologist will position you face down on a specially designed table with your breast placed through an opening in the tabletop. The tabletop will be raised and the physician and technologist will perform the procedure from beneath the table.

Your breast will be slightly compressed and held in a fixed position to ensure the accuracy of the procedure. X-ray images will be taken, and special software will map the exact location where tissue samples will be taken.

The skin over the biopsy area will be cleansed with a special disinfecting soap, and numbed with a local anesthetic injected into the breast with a small, thin needle. A small incision will be made and the biopsy instrument will be inserted. You may feel some slight pressure during this time. As the samples are taken, you may hear a 'click' from the biopsy device. Several samples will be taken to ensure the most accurate diagnosis possible.

When the procedure is completed, a sterile gauze and an ice pack will be applied over the incision to minimize swelling and bleeding. Before you leave, a simple pressure bandage and some sterile strips will be placed over the incision. Stitches are not required for this procedure.

Once you receive instructions concerning the care of the biopsied area, you will be free to dress and go home.

During Your Procedure (Breast Core Biopsy)

After you have been properly positioned for your biopsy, your breast will be imaged and the area to be biopsied located. Your skin will be cleansed with antiseptic and numbed. Sometimes, a very small nick is made to help the biopsy needle enter the breast with ease. You may feel some pressure, but most women report no pain.

The biopsy procedure will take a very short time. Multiple tissue samples will be collected. A final set of images may be taken and your physician may place a small marker at the biopsy site for future reference to identify the exact location of the biopsy. The marker is made of titanium and poses no health or safety risk. You will not be able to feel or notice the marker after placement.

Your biopsy will be performed in an outpatient setting. The entire procedure takes place in five steps:

  1. Numbing of the breast with medicine
  2. Imaging the breast to identify the biopsy area
  3. Inserting a small needle into your breast to retrieve the tissue samples
  4. Remove the small amount of tissue
  5. Placing a small marker to identify the biopsy site

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