Types of Breast Biopsies

These non-surgical biopsy techniques are outpatient procedures and can be done quickly. Afterward, patients can resume normal activities immediately.

Fine Needle Aspiration

Fine Needle Aspiration is a biopsy technique performed with a very small needle, only slightly larger than the caliber of a human hair. This needle is passed through a breast lump using local anesthesia. Suction is applied while the needle is maneuvered to pull microscopic amounts of breast tissue. This breast tissue is analyzed for suspicious cells using a technique similar to Pap smears.

We feel that this procedure is best for lumps that are easily felt. It is the least expensive biopsy technique and takes only 5-to-10 minutes. No more painful than having blood drawn, the results are available within 24-to-48 hours. However, FNAB does not always give precise information and thus is not used in all circumstances.


Ultrasound-guided

This biopsy technique is used in our office frequently. Using our office ultrasound machine and local anesthetics, the breast lump is located. A special biopsy needle, larger in caliber than the FNAB needle, is guided to the lump using the ultrasound images.

When the needle nears the lump, the biopsy mechanism activates and quickly harvests a small core sample of breast tissue about the size of a half-inch piece of pencil lead. This is usually done two or three times to gain an adequate sample. This procedure takes about 15 minutes and made nearly painless by using generous amounts of local anesthetic. It requires no special preparation on the part of the patient and precise results are usually available in less than 24 hours.


Stereotactic

This technique uses the same type of special biopsy needle as the ultrasound guidance. However, the guidance mechanism is a special computer-aided mammography technique. This biopsy technique is done in coordination with the radiologist at the hospital and occurs in the mammogram suite.

Used when the abnormality can only be seen on a mammogram or is simply invisible to ultrasound, the procedure requires several biopsies to ensure accuracy. It requires no preparation, local anesthetic, and the results are usually available in less than 24 hours.