Breast Surgical Biopsy

(Biopsy, Breast Surgical; Breast Open Biopsy; Biopsy, Breast Open; Breast Needle Localization; Localization, Breast Needle)

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Definition    TOP

Breast surgical biopsy is when the doctor makes a cut in the breast to remove all or part of a mass. The mass is examined under a microscope

Reasons for Procedure    TOP

Breast surgical biopsy is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:

  • Lump
  • Tissue thickening
  • Nipple abnormality
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Abnormal ultrasound or mammogram image

The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Tissue damage
  • Breast deformity
  • Numbness over the biopsy area

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Chronic disease such as obesity or diabetes
  • Bleeding disorders

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical exam, especially a breast exam
  • Blood tests
  • Mammogram and/or breast ultrasound

Leading up to the biopsy:

  • Talk to your doctor about your current medications. Certain medication may need to be stopped before the procedure.
  • Eat a light meal the night before your procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Shower the morning of the biopsy. You may be asked to use a special antibacterial soap.

Anesthesia

You may receive the following types of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia—Only the area that is being operated on is numbed.
  • General anesthesia —You will be asleep during the procedure.

Description of the Procedure    TOP

There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast:

Open Breast Biopsy

You will be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small cut will be made over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The site will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied.

Open Breast Biopsy

nucleus factsheet image
If all of the mass is removed, then this type of biopsy may be referred to as a lumpectomy.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Needle Localization

This technique will be used if the mass is too deep to be felt, but it can be seen with imaging tests. After the mass is located, a fine wire will be placed into your breast. The wire will point to the spot that needs to be biopsied. A small cut will be made in the area and the mass will be removed.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

1-3 hours

Will It Hurt?    TOP

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

At Home

It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results. Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection. Do not return to normal activities until your doctor says it is okay to do so.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Signs of infection, including fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the biopsy site
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
https://www.cancer.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Breast Cancer Network
https://www.cbcn.ca
Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

References:

Breast biopsy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-biopsy.html. Updated October 9, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 23, 2018. Accessed January 29, 2018.
General information about breast cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-treatment-pdq. Updated November 2, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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