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Centers for Breast Health

Ultrasonic Guided Core Breast Biopsy


Your breast ultrasound found an area for which we are suggesting further evaluation with an ultrasound core biopsy. Many times ultrasound can tell if an area is harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant), but sometimes it is not possible to tell from the imaging alone. Ultrasound guided breast biopsy is a highly accurate way to determine fully what is causing the change, and often used for best accuracy even if an area can be felt on physical examination. It is meant to sample an area, but not necessarily to remove it fully. This type of biopsy is faster with less pain and less scarring than a surgical biopsy.

The ultrasound guided core breast biopsy does not use x-ray. This procedure allows the physician to locate quickly and easily a sample of breast tissue. During your biopsy, local anesthesia (“numbing medicine”) keeps discomfort to a minimum and usually there is no visible scarring after the biopsy. This numbing feels like a needle prick and possibly some stinging or burning, but usually goes away in less than a minute. You may still feel pressure, but if you feel pain, more local anesthesia can usually be given. Most women have minimal if any discomfort during and after the procedure. Usually a narrow guide is placed through a small nick in the skin, and up to 5 tissue samples are obtained. To be able to follow the area, a tiny metal clip is often left at the biopsy site. This cannot be felt, is harmless, and does not need to be removed, but is easily seen on mammograms for later follow up or if the pathology indicates more surgery needs to be performed.

Unless your physician instructs otherwise avoid taking aspirin, aspirin-containing products, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin, Advil, or Aleve for 3-5 days prior to your procedure. These medications may increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure, so we advise you to avoid them. If you need to take something for minor pain, such as a headache, Tylenol would be acceptable.

On the day of your biopsy, please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time. This will allow registration and preparation time. The procedure itself will usually take less than an hour. You may eat, drink, and take your usual medications unless directed otherwise. Please dress comfortably, preferably with a loose fitting front button-opening shirt or blouse. Also, please wear a supportive bra to hold the ice pack in place after the procedure. It is a good idea to avoid exercise or strenuous activity for 24 hours following your procedure. Unless your doctor indicates otherwise, you do not need to have someone else drive you but you can do so if you would like. We recommend you leave valuables, earrings, and necklaces at home. We will provide you with further instructions for care at home.

The tissue samples obtained are sent to a pathologist and carefully studied. Biopsy results are usually available within 72 hours. Either the performing physician, a nurse navigator, or your referring physician will contact you regarding your results.

If your biopsy showed a non-cancerous (benign) condition, you may be placed in a special surveillance program with follow-up imaging to make sure that there is not any significant change. If your biopsy shows breast cancer, you will need to see a breast surgeon for additional plans. The results of the biopsy are usually very useful to a breast surgeon in determining further care. In less than 5% of image directed core needle biopsies, the results will not be conclusive and you will need to undergo an open surgical breast biopsy for further evaluation.

The staff and Radiologist Physicians of Saint Thomas Health are ready to assist you. Please call if you have any questions or concerns.