OSF Medical Group

Breast Biopsy

When it comes to biopsies, our process is uniquely personal. The decision is made by the physician and patient together and is based on the unique situation at hand.

The radiologist and general surgeon take the time to review your situation and then personally sit down with you to discuss your options.

When considering a breast biopsy, samples can be obtained by either surgery or a needle. The technique depends upon such things as the nature and location of the lump and the patient's general health. 

As partners, you and your physician will decide the best approach.

What is wire localization?

In order for a surgeon to surgically remove suspicious tissue from the breast, a guide will be needed to show the exact location of the abnormality. The wire localization procedure precisely pinpoints the abnormality, thereby increasing the surgeon's ability to remove all of the abnormal tissue, while reducing the removal of healthy tissue.

The radiologist will numb the outer skin and deeper tissue within your breast with a small needle. The injection of the anesthetic may sting for a few seconds. Once the anesthetic takes effect, you usually will not feel any pain during the placement of the needle.

Then, under ultrasound guidance or mammographic guidance, a wire will be inserted into your breast by the radiologist to mark the exact position of the abnormality.

This thin wire is left in place as a guide for your surgeon

The procedure takes approximately one hour.

What is a core needle biopsy?

In a core needle biopsy, the radiologist makes a tiny cut in the skin of the breast and inserts a small needle to get tissue samples. Usually, four to six samples are taken through that one cut.

Most people report little discomfort following a core needle biopsy. The procedure takes about an hour and patients usually receive their results within one to three business days.

If the core biopsy shows that cancer cells are present, removal of the area and a possible sentinel node biopsy will follow.

What is an excisional (open) biopsy?

During an excisional biopsy, a general surgeon will attempt to completely remove the area of concern, along with a surrounding margin of normal breast tissue, while the patient is under general anesthesia.

A picture is taken of the tissue that is removed and compared to the prior image of the breast to ensure the entire affected area is removed. The suspicious tissue is sent to a pathologist who identifies the tissue as cancerous or non-cancerous.

Patients usually receive their results within one to three business days.

What if something is abnormal?

If the abnormality is cancerous, the cancerous tissue will need to be removed.

There are several treatment options which are individualized to each situation. You surgeon will discuss each option with you prior to proceeding with surgery.