About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Español
VNA of Care New England
VNA of Care New England

Breast Surgical Biopsy

(Biopsy, Breast Surgical; Breast Open Biopsy; Biopsy, Breast Open; Breast Needle Localization; Localization, Breast Needle)

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

Definition

Breast surgical biopsy is when the doctor makes a cut in the breast to remove all or part of a mass. The mass is examined in a lab.

Reasons for Procedure

Breast surgical biopsy 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).

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Tissue damage
  • Breast deformity
  • Numbness over the biopsy area
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do the following:
  • 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 medications. Certain medication may need to be stopped before the procedure.
  • Eat a light meal the night before your procedure. 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—You will be asleep during the procedure.

Description of the Procedure

There are different ways the doctor can remove the mass from your breast:
Open Breast Biopsy
You will be given either general or local anesthesia. The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small cut will be made over the area. A sample of the tissue or all of the mass will be removed. The site will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be applied.
Open Breast Biopsy
nucleus factsheet image
If all of the mass is removed, then this type of biopsy may be referred to as a lumpectomy.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Open Breast Biopsy
nucleus factsheet image
If all of the mass is removed, then this type of biopsy may be referred to as a lumpectomy.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Needle Localization
This technique will be used if the mass is too deep to be felt, but it can be seen with imaging tests. After the mass is located, a fine wire will be placed into your breast. The wire will point to the spot that needs to be biopsied. A small cut will be made in the area and the mass will be removed.

How Long Will It Take?

1-3 hours

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.

Post-procedure Care

At Home
It will take about 2-5 days to receive your test results. Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection. Don't return to normal activities until your doctor says it is okay to do so.

Call Your Doctor

It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the biopsy site
  • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you've been given
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

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

Breast Cancer http://www.breastcancer.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.cbcf.org

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

References

Biopsy. The Breast Cancer website. Available at: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/biopsy. Updated September 17, 2012. Accessed January 22, 2013.

Breast cancer in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2013. Accessed January 22, 2013.

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.

Revision Information

Health Headlines
Health Tip: Finding Time for FitnessView in a lightbox
Health Tip: Warning Signs of Sleep ApneaView in a lightbox
Mother's Depression Tied to Later Delinquency in KidsView in a lightbox
FDA Approves First in New Class of Drugs for Advanced Ovarian CancerView in a lightbox
Vaccine for Deer Against 'Mad Cow'-Like Illness Shows PromiseView in a lightbox
VNA of Care New England
© 2011 Site Index | Disclaimer | Legal Notices | Talks Your Health