Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy

What Is Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy?

During an Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy, the radiologist uses sound waves to locate the suspicious area. Ultrasound-guided biopsy requires no exposure to radiation. This procedure is very useful when suspicious changes can’t be seen by a mammogram. This type of biopsy is a minimally invasive way to obtain a sample of breast tissue for further diagnosis. It is also faster and less painful than traditional surgical biopsy.

How Should I Prepare?

  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit and feel free to eat a light meal prior to the procedure.
  • Do not wear deodorant, lotion, powder or perfume under your arms or on your breasts the day of the procedure.
  • It is extremely important that you inform your healthcare provider regarding all medications you are currently taking. This includes vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter medications.
  • It is recommended that you avoid taking aspirin for one week before your biopsy, or aspirin-like medications (ibuprofen, Motrin®, Advil®, etc.) for three days before your biopsy.
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor before discontinuing any prescribed aspirin therapy or blood thinning medication.
  • Make sure you bring or wear a tight fitting bra. After the procedure, we will give you an ice pack to be placed in your bra to help minimize swelling and tenderness.

What Should I Expect?

There is no special preparation required prior to having an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. We recommend that you wear a comfortable two-piece outfit as you will be asked to undress from the waist up for the procedure. Before you arrive, the radiologist will have studied your imaging exams to become familiar with the location of the abnormality.

The procedure itself will usually take less than an hour and generally causes mild to no discomfort. The first part of the procedure will seem much like your original ultrasound. While lying on your back or turned slightly on your side, your breast will be scanned to find the abnormality. Then the technologist will mark your skin over the area in question. The radiologist will clean your breast and then numb the area with enough anesthetic to ensure that you will not feel discomfort during the procedure. The anesthetic used is very similar to what is used at the dentist. There is a tiny stick on the outer skin and you may feel a sting as the medication enters the tissue. After the anesthetic has taken effect, the radiologist will make a very small incision in the skin. He will then insert a small hollow-core needle, guide it to the location of the abnormality, and collect tissue samples.

Once the radiologist confirms the placement of the needle, you will be asked to remain still as he collects the samples. Ultrasound transmits a visual image during the entire procedure, enabling the radiologist to view the procedure on a video screen and ensure accurate placement of the needle.

After taking the samples, the radiologist may place a tiny clip inside your breast to locate the biopsied area. You will not be able to feel this marker but it will show on future examinations.

When the procedure is complete, the technologist will apply pressure to the biopsy site for several minutes, then apply a sterile dressing.

What Are the Benefits of Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy?

Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy takes much less time than surgical biopsy, and causes less tissue damage. This procedure is also able to evaluate lumps under the arm or near the chest wall, which are hard to assess by other methods.

What Are the Risks?

As with other types of biopsy, if your diagnosis remains uncertain, a surgical biopsy may be necessary. Occasionally a patient has significant discomfort, which can be alleviated by nonprescription pain medication.

Infection can occur whenever the skin is penetrated, but the chance of infection requiring antibiotic therapy is minimal.

Follow-Up Care

    • Leave the band-aid on until the next morning. At that time, remove the band-aid, leaving the steri-strip (tape over the puncture site) in place.
    • Do not bathe or shower for 24 hours after the breast biopsy. Please do not go swimming or into a hot tub for three days after the biopsy.
    • After 24 hours you may bathe/shower with the steri-strip (tape) in place. The steri-strip will eventually come off in the shower. The edges of the steri-strip can be trimmed if they start to come off. Please leave the steri-strip in place until it comes off on its own. Once the steri-strip comes off, it does not need to be replaced.
    • Do not take any Ibuprofen, aspirin or aspirin-containing products for three days after the breast biopsy. You may take Tylenol (one-two tablets every four or six hours) for mild discomfort.
    • Avoid strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects for 24 hours.

How Do I Get the Results?

A pathologist will examine the tissue specimens and will report the findings to your doctor, usually within 3-5 working days. The results of your biopsy will be made available to you through your designated healthcare provider or doctor.

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