Breast Biopsy


If the radiologist has identified a suspicious mass on a mammogram or ultrasound, a biopsy may be recommended. A Stereotactic ultrasound-guided, or MR-guided breast biopsy has been proven to be as accurate as a surgical “open” biopsy in an operating room and has many advantages. These biopsies:

  • Are performed in an office
  • Provide for immediate recovery
  • Cost one-fifth to one-third the cost of an open biopsy
  • Take less than one hour to perform
  • Do not cause any scarring or breast deformity, resulting in more accurate interpretation of follow-up mammograms

With a stereotactic biopsy, the patient sits in a chair and the breast with the abnormality is placed in the stereotactic unit. The radiologist numbs the skin and makes a small opening for a needle. The radiologist then passes a needle through the numbed area of the breast and re- moves small tissue samples. This is done several times through the same opening. The procedure lasts about 30 minutes. The tissue samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Alternatively, when the breast abnormality can be seen by ultrasound, the abnormality can be biopsied using ultrasound as a guide. The patient lies on her back and the radiologist uses a technique very similar to that of stereotactic biopsy. It only takes 10-15 minutes and has all the biopsy advantages of the stereotactic biopsy. If an abnormality is only seen on a Breast MRI, then the biopsy must be performed in an MRI machine. (See our Breast MRI brochure for more details.) When any type of biopsy is complete, the doctor places a bandage over the affected area and an ice pack on the breast.