Understanding Breast Biopsy

What is a breast biopsy?

A biopsy involves the removal of a small sample of tissue from the breast so that it can be analyzed for atypical cells. Your doctor might recommend a biopsy if there has been an abnormality noted on your mammogram.

Fact: Most breast biopsies reveal the suspicious spot to be benign or non-cancerous.

What is a needle localization biopsy and how is it done?

Needle localization biopsy involves the insertion of a thin wire into the breast to mark the suspicious tissue for the surgeon.

  • You go to the mammography unit where your breast will be compressed and X-rays taken, in the same manner in which your routine mammograms are done.
  • You will remain compressed while the radiologist views the X-rays immediately to confirm that the suspicious area has indeed been captured on the film.
  • While your breast is still compressed, the area will be numbed with a local anesthetic.
  • The radiologist inserts a thin wire into the breast to pinpoint the suspicious tissue.
  • More X-rays are taken to verify that the placement of the wire has been accurate. Once accurate placement has been confirmed the wire is secured into place.
  • You go to the operating room where your surgeon removes the suspicious tissue through an incision in the breast.

How do I prepare for my biopsy?

  • Do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon
  • Do not wear deodorant or powder.
  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after your biopsy.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Remember to bring your insurance information and a list of your medications and supplements to the hospital.
  • Do not bring valuables with you.
  • Wear eyeglasses, not contact lenses.

Are there any special instructions after my biopsy?

Your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding your activity level and wound care at the time of discharge. Generally, you should allow 72 hours for any anesthetic agents to be completely removed from your body.

  • Avoid alcohol and any medicines not prescribed by your doctor during this time.
  • Do not sign any important papers or operate dangerous machinery during the first 24 hours after your biopsy.
  • Call your doctor's office to schedule a follow-up appointment, usually within two weeks of your biopsy.
  • Notify your doctor immediately if you develop a fever or have redness or drainage from the biopsy site.

Always Remember...

Women must be their own best advocates and take responsibility for their health. A good way to do that is by committing to routine screening exams such as Pap smears and mammograms, as recommended by your doctor.

Click here for the Breast Biopsy Brochure

Call the Women's Health Imaging Center to schedule your appointment
for your mammogram, bone density test, ultrasound exam, breast biopsy or automated whole breast volume scan (ABVS).