If a suspicious lesion (tissue abnormality) is found in your breast, your doctor will typically request that a biopsy be performed. Biopsy is removal of a piece of infected tissue or part of a lesion for examination under a microscope. This is the only way to know if a lesion is benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Depending upon the size, location, appearance and characteristics of the abnormality, biopsy is performed. Several methods include:
Open Surgical Biopsy
Disadvantages of Open Surgical Biopsy:
- Requires stitches and can leave a scar.
- Small mortality risk (due to risks of anesthesia).
- Moderate chances of bleeding, infection, wound healing problems.
- Fracture or migration of the localizing wire.
Fine Needle Aspiration
During a core biopsy, small samples of tissue are removed from the breast using a hollow needle under image guidance (either stereotactic mammography or ultrasound). The needle is either placed by hand or with the assistance of a sampling device. Multiple insertions are needed to obtain sufficient breast tissue, usually multiple samples are taken. Patients may experience a slight pressure, but should not experience any pain. As tissue samples are taken, a click may be heard from the sampling instrument. Typically, several samples approximately 3/4 inches long and 1/16 inches in diameter are removed. The samples will be sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis.
Suction Assisted Biopsy
The suction assisted biopsy procedure is similar to core biopsy and is guided using stereotactic mammography or ultrasound imaging. However, unlike core biopsy, the special biopsy probe is inserted just once into the breast through a tiny skin nick in the patient’s breast. The sampling chamber of the probe is placed in the vicinity of the abnormality under image guidance. A vacuum line pulls tissue through the aperture and into the sampling chamber. Once tissue has been pulled into the chamber, a rotating hollow coaxial cutter is advanced and captures a tissue sample. The sample is then carried through the probe to the tissue collection area (a standard pathology tissue cassette). After the first sample is acquired, the orientation of the aperture is rotated by the physician to the next desired position. The sampling chamber is moved to a new position, the entire cycle is then repeated, until all desired areas have been sampled. The probe is then removed and pressure will be applied to the biopsy site and an adhesive bandage is applied to the skin nick. A pathologist then tests the tissue samples.
Large Core Breast Biopsy
The Large Core Breast Biopsy technique, is a surgical removal of the whole lesion (abnormality) intact by an invasive, disposable sterile probe. The large core breast biopsy procedure involves using a prone biopsy table and digital stereotactic imaging. During the procedure, a wire is guided into the lesion and then a cannula (narrow tube with a cutting device) is inserted into the breast with a probe to part and spare normal breast tissue. With the use of local anesthesia and while the breast is maintained in compression, the lesion is then removed with a looped wire and orientated for pathological study. Due to the size of the large core breast biopsy incision, stitches are typically required.The large core biopsy can remove a 10mm to 20mm tissue sample.