Breast Needle Biopsy
(Biopsy, Breast Needle; Breast Needle Aspiration; Aspiration, Breast Needle; Fine Needle Aspiration; Aspiration, Fine Needle; Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy; Biopsy, Stereotactic Core Needle; MRI-guided Breast Biopsy; Biopsy, MRI-guided Breast; Vacuum-assisted Device Biopsy; Biopsy, Vacuum-assisted Device; Ultrasound-directed Needle Biopsy; Biopsy, Ultrasound-directed Needle)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Breast needle biopsy is when a needle is used to remove a sample of breast tissue. The sample is examined under a microscope. There are different types of breast needle biopsies:
Reasons for Procedure
Breast needle biopsy is done to look at suspicious part of the breast. It can find out of the spot is cancerous or not.
It may be done if there is:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The doctor may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor will give local anesthesia—the area will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will choose a type of needle biopsy, such as:
Fine Needle Aspiration
The doctor will insert a small needle into the breast tissue. The needle will remove fluid and/or tissue. The needle may be removed and re-inserted more than one time. After this is done, the doctor will apply pressure to the area. A bandage will be placed over the site.
Ultrasound-directed Needle Biopsy
An ultrasound device will find the site where the biopsy needs to be taken. After the site is found, a small needle will be inserted in the breast tissue. The needle will take samples of fluid and/or tissue. A bandage will be applied after the needle is removed.
Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy
Mammogram or ultrasound images will be taken to find the correct site. The doctor will make a tiny cut in the breast and insert a special probe. Using the probe, the doctor will remove several core samples of breast tissue from the site. After this is done, the site will be covered with a bandage.
MRI-guided Breast Biopsy
Sometimes the site can only be seen with an MRI scan. Because of this, an MRI-guided breast biopsy may be needed. This procedure takes more time.
How Long Will It Take?
Less than 1 hour
Will It Hurt?
There will be slight pain in the breast after the biopsy. Pain medicine can help.
At the Care Center
The staff will give instructions on preventing infection. Most can go home after the biopsy.
Recovery is usually fast. Core needle biopsies may take several weeks to heal.
Test results may take 1 to 2 weeks.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
Canadian Cancer Society
Biopsy. Breast Cancer website. Available at: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/biopsy. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Breast biopsy. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/breast-biopsy.html. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/breast-cancer-in-women. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Breast cancer—health professional version. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/hp. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/breastbius. Accessed September 21, 2021.
Wang M, He X, et al. A sensitivity and specificity comparison of fine needle aspiration cytology and core needle biopsy in evaluation of suspicious breast lesions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Breast. 2017;31:157-166.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 9/21/2021
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