Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy

Lumps or abnormal growths in the breast are often detected by imaging studies. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a growth is benign or cancerous.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some of the abnormal growth from a suspicious area in the breast and examine it under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. In an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormal growth.

Before the Procedure

  • No food or liquids for 2 hours prior to the procedure. However, you may take all regular medications as scheduled with small sips of water.
  • It is recommended that you arrange a relative or friend to drive you home after the procedure.
  • Report any medications you are taking to the radiology nurse, including “blood thinners”, such as aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, Pradaxa, Xarelto, or Eliquis. Your physician may advise you to stop taking a “blood thinner” for a specific period of time before your procedure.
  • If you are taking Coumadin or Heparin, or you have known or suspected liver disease, your blood will be tested to determine if your blood clots normally.
  • Report any allergies to the radiology nurse, especially those to iodine contrast (x-ray dye) or local anesthetic medications.

During the Procedure

  • You will be positioned lying on your back on the ultrasound table and images will be taken to find the best location for biopsy.
  • The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and the area around the breast is covered with a large sterile sheet.
  • You will feel a slight pin prick when the local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is injected in the area.
  • A small skin incision is made in the skin.
  • Using ultrasound as a guide, the doctor inserts the hollow biopsy needle through the incision and advances it directly to the abnormal growth. Samples are then obtained by vacuum pressure which pulls tissue from the breast through the needle. Typically 8-10 samples are collected from the growth.
  • After this sampling, a small marker may be placed at the biopsy site so that it can be located in the future if necessary.  A bandage is placed over the procedure site.

Potential Risks and Complications

  • Bleeding at the procedure site
  • Infection at the procedure site
  • Injury to an adjacent skin, nerve, blood vessel, muscle, or underlying lung

After the Procedure

  • Keep an ice pack on for 20 minutes each hour for the next 6 hours. Wear your bra for added support.
  • Get plenty of rest for the remainder of the day after your biopsy. You may return to light activity the day after the biopsy.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous labor for 3 days after your biopsy.
  • Eat and drink normally. Increased fluid intake is recommended.
  • Mild pain, discomfort, or bruising at the procedure site is expected. You may take over-the-counter Tylenol for any pain you may experience.
  • You will have a small bandage over the site. You may remove the bandage in 3 days and leave the site dry and exposed. You may shower, but do not have a tub bath for 3 days.
  • Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
    • Signs of infection at the procedure site, such as redness, swelling, or a fever.
    • Bleeding from the procedure site.
    • Worsening, severe pain near the procedure site.
    • Fainting or feeling lightheaded.
  • If any further questions or complications arise and you do not know what to do, please call the radiology department at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center at (928) 537-4375, ext. 6549. For questions after hours please ask for ext. 6332.
  • Getting your biopsy results may take a few days. When the results are ready, your doctor will discuss them with you.