Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine


What is a Breast Biopsy?

Learn how to schedule an appointment
at the Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital
Women’s Center

Core Needle Biopsy a core needle biopsy is a procedure used to determine whether a suspicious lump is cancer. Some lumps look the same whether they are benign or malignant (cancer) so the only way to find out is to remove a piece through a biopsy. The tissue removed from the lump is then sent to a pathologist who looks at it under the microscope and determines whether or not it is malignant.

Open Incisional Biopsy core needle biopsies are different from surgical biopsies in that only small pieces of the lump are removed through a very small cut in the skin. Surgical biopsies usually remove the entire lump through a larger cut in the skin. Since most lumps are benign, most doctors recommend a core needle biopsy be performed.


What is a Stereotactic Biopsy?

A stereotactic biopsy is guided by mammography. It is most helpful in sampling areas of suspicious calcifications on your mammogram. The first thing that will happen is the technologists will help you get on the padded table as comfortably as possible. You will lie face down with your breast inserted through an opening in the table. Your breast will be held in compression during the procedure. It is very important that you take the time to get comfortable so that you can stay perfectly still, as any movement or talking can interfere with the biopsy.


What should I expect from my Stereotactic Biopsy?

During the biopsy, the radiologist injects local anesthetic to numb the area. Through a small cut in the skin a needle is inserted and pieces of tissues are removed. This incision is so small that stitches are unnecessary. The radiologist will x-ray the tissue removed to make sure the calcifications have been removed.

Ultrasound Guided

What is an ultrasound guided biopsy?

An ultrasound guided biopsy is done when the lump can be seen with ultrasound. Usually ultrasound biopsies are the quickest and easiest of all biopsy procedures. You will lie on your back or slightly on your side.

What should I expect from my ultrasound guided biopsy?

During an ultrasound guided biopsy, the radiologist injects local anesthetic to numb the area. Through a small cut in the skin a needle is inserted and pieces of tissues are removed. This incision is so small that stitches are unnecessary.

MRI Guided

What is an MRI guided biopsy?

MRI guided biopsy uses an MRI to guide a needle into the lesion. The procedure is performed while lying on the stomach. Once the radiologist identifies the lump, a computer program is used to determine the position of the needle in the breast. The radiologist administers local anesthesia, makes a skin cut, and places the needle in the area of concern. The needle usually has a vacuum that will withdraw the tissue and sample the lump. The removed tissue is sent to the laboratory where a pathologist will examine it and determine the diagnosis.

Will the magnetic field interact with anything on or in my body?

The magnet used in breast MRI can interfere with metal objects in your body. People with an artificial heart valve, implanted drug infusion port, infusion catheter, IUD, implanted electronic devise (pacemaker), artificial limb, joint prosthesis, implanted nerve stimulator, metal pins, screws, plates or surgical staples should make sure to alert the technologist before the procedure. Breast MRI cannot be performed on people who have an internal defibrillator, cochlear implant, or aneurysm clip.

Patients with implants will be asked to provide an implant card to verify MRI compatibility.

What can I expect after my Biopsy?

At the end of the procedure sometimes a small clip is placed in the area of the biopsy. The clip helps identify the biopsy site for future mammograms. Usually after a biopsy procedure, you will be instructed to keep the breast area dry for 24 hours. Strenuous activity such as weight lifting or aerobic activity should be avoided during this time.

Most women find that they can resume their normal activities the next day. It is important to carefully follow the post-procedure instructions so any specific circumstances are taken care of properly. It is normal to have bruising after a breast biopsy. In order to reduce the amount of bruising, the nurse will hold pressure at the biopsy site at the end of the biopsy. You will be instructed to place ice on your breast at intervals during the remainder of the day.

The pathology report will be ready a few days after the biopsy. This result goes to the referring physician and the radiologist. The referring physician will have your results and can answer any questions or concerns.