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Call (425) 899-2831 or use our online form to make an appointment at our Kenmore, Kirkland and mobile coach locations.

Breast Imaging & Diagnosis

It's important to remember that just because your diagnostic mammogram found something suspicious in your breast tissue, it doesn't automatically mean you have breast cancer. About 80 percent of breast biopsies turn out to be non-cancerous.

Your Breast Center nurse navigator

If you are referred for a breast biopsy, a Breast Center nurse navigator will step in to manage your care and become your personal guide through your biopsy and diagnosis.

She will schedule your breast biopsy, explain how your procedure will go, and even walk you to the biopsy procedure room so you know where to go for your appointment.

She'll also go over your medical history, making sure any medications are in order and none need adjustment before the biopsy.

Your nurse navigator is available to answer any questions or concerns you might have – in person, by phone or by email.

Types of breast biopsies

Stereotactic core biopsy

This is a minimally invasive procedure that established the precise diagnosis of a breast issue without the need for a surgical biopsy.

The Breast Health Center is nationally certified for stereotactic core biopsy.

How the biopsy will go
  • You'll be placed face down on a stereotactic table with the affected breast suspended through a hole in the table. The breast is lightly compressed to stabilize it.
  • The table is connected to a computer that processes digital images to locate the abnormality.
  • The radiologist will inject a local anesthetic and will make a small nick in the skin (less than ¼ inch) which will not require stitches.
  • A computer guides the biopsy probe to the tissue for sampling, which is then sent to pathology for analysis.
  • A tiny metal clip may be left behind as a marker of the removed abnormality. A small bandage will be placed over the incision site.
  • There may be a sharp, stinging sensation when the local anesthetic is administered. During the procedure, you may feel slight discomfort or light pressure.
  • After the test, the breast may be sore and tender to the touch for several days. If an incision is made, pain medication will probably be prescribed. For needle biopsy, over-the-counter pain medication should be adequate.

Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration

This is a diagnostic procedure that inserts a very small needle into a suspicious mass in order to extract some of the cells for diagnosis.

How the biopsy will go
  • You'll be placed on a cushioned table, slightly turned to one side with a foam cushion to support your back.
  • The radiologist will inject a local anesthetic, and use ultrasound guidance to gently place the small needle into the breast and remove cells from the mass.
  • If the mass is fluid, the needle will remove it all.
  • If the mass is solid, the radiologist will remove a small core of tissue for biopsy.
  • Pressure and an ice pack are applied to the needle insertion site, along with a small bandage. No stitches are required.

Ultrasound-guided core biopsy

This is a minimally invasive procedure that can establish the precise diagnosis of a breast problem without the need for a surgical biopsy.

How the biopsy will go
  • You'll be placed on a cushioned table, on your back, slightly turned to one side with a foam cushion to support your back.
  • The radiologist will inject a local anesthetic, making a small nick in the skin (less than ¼ inch) which will not require stitches.
  • A small needle is gently placed into the breast and guided to the suspicious mass with ultrasound.
  • Several small tissue samples are obtained, and sent to pathology for analysis.
  • Pressure and an ice pack is applied to the breast for any discomfort, and a small bandage is placed over the incision.

MRI-guided core biopsy | wire localization

This minimally invasive procedure is used to localize abnormalities that can't be seen by mammography or ultrasound.

It allows the surgeon to remove a small amount of breast tissue for the pathologist to make a definitive diagnosis.

How the biopsy will go
  • After local anesthesia, a small needle containing a wire will be inserted into the abnormal area of your breast.
  • After the location of the needle is verified by additional MR imaging, the needle will be removed, leaving the wire in place in order to guide the breast surgeon to the abnormality during surgery.

Galactogram

A galactogram or ductogram is a procedure that is sometimes helpful in determining the cause of nipple discharge.

How the biopsy will go
  • Cream is placed on the nipple for local anesthesia, along with warm compresses to help stimulate a nipple discharge.
  • The radiologist inserts a small catheter into the nipple through which X-ray dye will be injected.
  • The technologist then takes several low dose mammograms of the breast, after which the catheter is removed.

Types of breast procedures

Breast scintigraphy (nuclear medicine)

Breast scintigraphy enables the surgeon to sample specific lymph nodes to determine whether cancer has spread beyond the breast.

In certain circumstances, breast scintigraphy can help the radiologist determine the difference between a benign or a malignant lesion.

How the procedure will go
  • A breast scintigraphy is performed in Nuclear Medicine
  • Radioactive material is injected around the breast cancer or around the breast cancer biopsy site.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a table while images similar to X-rays are taken of the breast cancer site.
  • You will then be taken to the operating room, where a surgeon injects about a teaspoon of blue dye around the breast cancer or biopsy site to assist in localizing the sentinel node.
  • A gamma probe will also be used to locate the targeted sentinel lymph node.

Wire localization surgical biopsy

A wire localization assists a surgeon in locating a breast abnormality not felt on a manual breast exam.

The procedure allows the surgeon to remove a small amount of breast tissue for the pathologist to make a definitive diagnosis.

How the procedure will go
  • Under local anesthesia, a small needle containing a wire will be inserted into the area of concern.
  • After the location of the needle is verified by additional mammographic views or ultrasound, the needle will be removed, leaving the wire in place in order to guide the breast surgeon to the abnormality during surgery.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed to determine if invasive breast cancer has moved beyond the original tumor location via a targeted lymph node under the armpit.

If the cancer is contained within a few lymph nodes, only they need to be removed...sparing a more invasive surgical procedure.

How the procedure will go
  • You will first undergo a lymphoscintigraphy exam in the nuclear medicine department.
  • A lymphoscintigraphy is performed by injecting radioactive material around the breast cancer or around the breast cancer biopsy site.
  • You will lie down on a table while images similar to X-ray pictures are taken of the breast cancer site.
  • You will then be taken to the operating room where a surgeon injects about a teaspoon of blue dye around the breast cancer or biopsy site to assist in localizing the sentinel node.
  • A gamma probe will also be used to locate the targeted sentinel lymph node.

Your diagnosis

Your Breast Center nurse navigator will call you with the results of your breast biopsy; if you prefer, she will meet with you in person.

If cancer is found, rest assured that the breast cancer care team at EvergreenHealth's Halvorson Cancer Center is ready to begin your treatment.

Your care will be transitioned to one of our Breast Cancer nurse navigators. She will set up your treatment appointments and be your personal guide through everything related to your treatment and after care.

Learn more about breast cancer treatment at the Halvorson Cancer Center

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