Breast Biopsy: Purpose, Procedure, Recovery, and Risks

By DCode Care Team | March 29th 2022

Breast Biopsy: Purpose, Procedure, Recovery, and Risks

Breast Biopsy: Purpose, Procedure, Recovery, and Risks

Doctors suggested a breast biopsy and thinking what exactly it is? There are numerous questions that patients fear developing cancer, out of which a great number of them are related to biopsy. After receiving many requests from visitors, we have created a post fully dedicated to breast biopsy and how exactly it works. Go through the post and know each detail about this treatment.

What exactly is Breast Biopsy?

The breast biopsy is a diagnostic process performed once the doctor finds some sign of breast cancer, either through symptoms or a mammogram test. In this procedure, a tiny portion of breast tissue is taken as a sample that is checked under the microscope to find any sign of cancer. It is considered the only method using which the physician decides whether the patient has breast cancer or not. The major signs of trouble after which doctors suggest the breast biopsy are mentioned below:

  • Feeling of a lump or mass in the breast
  • Finding out a medical condition recognized in a mammogram test
  • Checking nipple issues like bloody discharge
  • Evaluating whether the breast lump is dangerous or not

There are many other reasons for doctors to perform biopsies other than those mentioned above. However, the major one is a lump generally found in the breast.

Major types of breast biopsies

There are various breast biopsies that physicians perform according to the size and location of the lump in the breast. It is usually performed either under local or general anesthesia, depending on the patient's situation. Have a look at the major types of breast biopsies in detail below:

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

The process performed using special mammography equipment is known as a stereotactic breast biopsy. This machine guides the physician to the abnormal part of the breast and is generally recommended when the patient prefers a non-surgical method for assessment. It is usually performed for evaluating conditions like solid mass, distortion, and tissue changes in the breast.

Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy

The technology that utilizes the power of sound waves for performing diagnosis is known as Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy. It is mainly used to identify a lump or get a tissue sample to complete an examination using a microscope. According to top studies, a surgical biopsy is more invasive than an ultrasound-guided biopsy as the patient doesn’t have to deal with ionizing radiation.

Vacuum-Assisted Core Biopsy

In this type of biopsy, a minor cut is made to insert a hollow tube or probe in the breast. It goes through the breast lump using X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound. The probe pulls the breast tissue for cutting the tissue from the breast with the spinning knife.

How is breast biopsy performed?

The exact method depends on its type, whether a needle breast or open breast biopsy. We have stated about both in detail below:

Needle Breast Biopsy

  • The patient has to remove all the clothes from the upper body and wear a gown that the doctor gives.
  • There is a sterile solution used for cleaning the skin where a biopsy needs to be performed.
  • Medicine is usually injected to numb the area if a local anesthetic is performed.
  • The probe is kept on the breast for identifying a lump or mass while using ultrasound.
  • If stereotactic imaging is performed, the patient needs to place their breast on the opening part of the table. It will find out the right location of the lump with the computer.
  • The procedure is usually performed by lying down without holding the breast. The needle is placed into the biopsy site for removing the tissue.
  • A dressing or bandage is applied to the affected area after getting breast tissue that is further sent to the lab for examination.

Open Breast Biopsy

  • The patient removed the upper clothes and wore the gown that the doctor gave.
  • The doctor may insert an intravenous line in the arm if required.
  • Medicine will be given to relax the patient who will be placed on the operating table.
  • The breast is numbed using a needle stick if local anesthesia is given.
  • There are many things like blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen level checked by the practitioner if general anesthesia is given.
  • A sterile solution is added to the affected area before making a small cut to find the mass or lump in the skin.
  • After removing the lump, the opening is closed using strips of stitches.
  • The removed tissue is further sent to the lab for examination.

How do patients get ready for the breast biopsy?

All the precautions are explained by the physician, and we strongly suggest asking any questions they have in mind. Have a look at the important points below:

  • The patient has to sign a consent form to grant permission for performing the procedure. We suggest reading the form carefully before signing.
  • If a biopsy is performed through local anesthesia, there is no need for any preparation. However, it is ideal for the patient not to drink or eat a few hours before the surgery if general anesthesia is used for breast biopsy.
  • It is suggested not to use any type of lotion, powder, and perfume on the breast area on treatment day.
  • If someone is sensitive to any medicine or tape, it is best to tell the technician in advance to avoid any later difficulty.
  • The patient should inform the practitioner about the medicines they are currently taking before the biopsy.
  • Make sure the technician is fully aware of all the history of bleeding disorders if any.

What are the risks associated with Breast Biopsy?

There are few medical procedures employed by almost all the medical procedures, including breast biopsy. It is important to discuss the potential risks of breast biopsy with your doctor before diagnosing. Let’s have a look at what kind of dangers bring by breast biopsy in detail below:

Swelling & Bruising

The most common side effect that patients can have after biopsy is swelling and bruising of the breast. Most women have often complained of pain once they perform the diagnosis. Talk with your doctor about medications you are already taking to reduce the side effects as much as possible.

Neck Pain

There is a great chance of neck pain while receiving the stereotactic procedure usually performed during the biopsy. Also, many patients feel pain in their arms, but having it in the neck is more common.


There is a huge chance that patients might feel a little bit of soreness in their breasts, making their breasts look larger than usual. It may last for several days, and doctors may suggest pain relief medication to the patient.


We are pretty assured most patients may get nervous while having a biopsy which is common for medical treatment. It is generally performed in the provider’s office, and patients can go home on the same day. However, there are instances where they may have to spend a night in the hospital according to their health condition.
We have tried to cover all the important prospects of breast biopsy in this post. If you have any queries regarding this process, please write about it in the comment section.