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Breast Surgical Biopsy

Written by sshowalter.

Breast needle biopsy is the removal of a sample of breast tissue using a needle. The sample is examined in a lab. This is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:

  • Lump
  • Tissue thickening
  • Nipple abnormality
  • Discharge from the nipple
  • Abnormal ultrasound or mammogram image

The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

(You can also read about Breast Needle Biopsy)

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a breast surgical biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Tissue damage
  • Breast deformity
  • Numbness over area of biopsy

Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Chronic illness, like diabetes
  • Bleeding disorder

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the biopsy site
  • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicine you were given after surgery, or that persist for more than two days after the procedure
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following prior to the Biopsy:

  • Physical exam, especially a breast exam
  • Blood tests
  • Mammogram and/or breast ultrasound

Leading up to the biopsy:

  • Talk to your doctor about your current medicines. Certain medicines may need to be stopped before the procedure, such as: o Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs for up to one week before surgery o Blood-thinning drugs, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
  • The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
  • Shower the morning of the biopsy. You may be asked to use a special antibacterial soap.

Anesthesia

You may receive the following types of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia—Only the area that is being operated on is numbed.
  • General anesthesia —Blocks pain and keeps you asleep through the surgery; given through an IV (needle in your vein) in your hand or arm.

Description of the Procedure

There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast: Breast Open Biopsy

You will also be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. The doctor will make a small cut over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The doctor will close the site with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied. Breast Open Biopsy nucleus factsheet image If all of the mass is removed, then this type of biopsy may be referred to as a lumpectomy. © 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Needle Localization

This technique will be used if the mass is too deep to be felt but can be seen with imaging tests. Once the mass is located, the doctor will place a fine wire into your breast that points to the spot that needs to be biopsied. She will make a small cut in the area and remove the mass. How Long

The procedure usually takes between 1-3 hours. There may be slight pain in your breast after the biopsy and your doctor may prescribe pain medicine.

Post-procedure Care At Home

When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Take pain medicine as directed by your doctor.
  • To relieve discomfort, apply a warm compress or a heating pad to the area.
  • Wear a supportive bra.
  • Ask your doctor when you should change the bandages.
  • Restrict exercise for 2-3 weeks after surgery.
  • If you have stitches, have them removed in about a week.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results.

References

American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/

Breastcancer.org http://www.breastcancer.org

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

http://www.cbcf.org/ Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca

Biopsy. The Breastcancer.org website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/biopsy.jsp . Accessed February 19, 2008.

Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC. Procedures for Primary Care Physicians . St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1994.

Sabiston DC, Lyerly HK. Textbook of Surgery . 15th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 1997.

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