A breast biopsy is recommended after there has been a suspicious finding on a mammogram, ultrasound or breast MRI. During this procedure, a sample of breast tissue is taken with a specialized needle while using image-guided technology. The tissue sample is sent to a pathologist for examination under a microscope to determine the nature of the cells.
We perform four types of image-guided biopsies. Each is extremely reliable, highly accurate and minimally invasive. We work closely with your referring physician to ensure the most effective biopsy method is selected based on your needs.
Our staff understands the anxiety patients experience as part of the biopsy procedure and we take extra care to ensure your comfort during the procedure. Our experienced radiologists will keep your procedure as easy and efficient as possible, and will communicate with you every step of the way.
The radiologist who interpreted your breast imaging exam has advised you to have a breast biopsy because an abnormal area was detected on your breast study (a mammogram, ultrasound, or breast MRI). This area could be a mass, calcifications, an unusual breast pattern or an area of abnormal uptake of dye. These areas are often most easily and directly evaluated by obtaining a core biopsy. Happily, most biopsy results are negative, which means there is no presence of disease.
There are four types of image-guided breast biopsies that we perform. We select the type of biopsy by seeing which method would provide the most accuracy while producing the least complications. We have four different ways of guiding the biopsy:
- Ultrasound Guidance
- Stereotaxis Guidance: We use 2D mammography to pinpoint the biopsy area and remove several small samples of breast tissue to be further examined.
- Breast MRI Guidance
- 3D Mammography Guidance
Although the guidance may differ, all biopsies are performed based on the same method. First, images are taken to view and confirm the area for biopsy. A local anesthetic is given to numb the skin and the biopsy area. You may still feel some pressure during the procedure, but pain should be eliminated. A small nick is made in the skin and the biopsy needle is directed to the biopsy site. Our radiologists will then take samples or cores of tissue using a specialized needle. These core samples are collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. After the breast biopsy, a marker will be placed at the biopsy site for follow-up. The marker will not affect your breast tissue and it generally cannot be felt. It will not set off alarms (like in airports or security portals) and will not be of concern for other exams, such as an MRI scans. A mammogram will be taken after the breast core biopsy to check the position of the marker. Some patients will be asked to return for a follow-up mammogram or breast ultrasound six months after the biopsy.
Yes, breast core biopsy is a very safe procedure. Our radiologists have extensive experience performing breast core biopsies at our offices every day. Breast core biopsy has an accuracy rate of about 98%. There is no significant difference in accuracy for core biopsy compared with surgical or excisional biopsy. However, whenever a needle enters the body there is always a small risk of infection or bleeding in about 1% of cases. Serious complications that require immediate medical attention are extremely unusual. If any problem should arise after your procedure, please contact your referring physician or the radiologist who performed the procedure.
Preparing for Your Exam
In addition to the written order from your doctor, please remember to bring to your appointment any related prior images or reports from outside Washington Radiology.
- Avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, similar blood thinning products and anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or Aleve) for 24 hours prior to the biopsy procedure, unless otherwise instructed at the time of scheduling.
- If you are taking a blood thinner, such as Coumadin or Eliquis, check with your referring physician before your biopsy, as you may need to briefly discontinue use of this drug.
- If you have any questions concerning whether you should continue taking a specific medicine prior to your biopsy procedure, please contact our office at least five days before the date of your scheduled biopsy.
On the day of your exam:
- Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit, including a comfortable supportive bra.
- Do not use powder, lotion or deodorant.
- Light meal only before the procedure. If you're having an MRI-guided biopsy, do not eat or drink for 2 hours before the biopsy.
If you have any follow-up questions about these preparations, please contact the Washington Radiology office where your exam is scheduled and ask to speak with the nurse.
3022 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031
Chevy Chase, MD
4445 Willard Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
2141 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
21351 Ridgetop Circle
Sterling, VA 20166
20410 Observation Drive
Germantown, MD 20876