Patient-Centered Services

Image-Guided Needle Biopsy of The Breast

A needle core biopsy is the easiest and most reliable way to prove whether a suspicious finding in the breast is cancer or not. A small tissue sample is obtained with a special biopsy needle which is later examined under a microscope by a pathologist for diagnosis. Most biopsy procedures take 20-30 minutes. Gentle local anesthesia is used (a numbing injection) which is typically very well tolerated and makes the procedure painless. After the tissue samples, or needle cores, are obtained a tiny titanium marker is placed into the biopsy site. Finally, a few mammogram views are taken to show the location of the marker and the targeted biopsy site. The radiologist receives the diagnosis from the pathologist the next day and discusses the results with the patient the day after the biopsy procedure. Occasionally it takes two or three days to receive biopsy results.

There are three ways, or imaging modalities, which a radiologist may use to guide a needle directly to the suspicious finding in the breast depending on the easiest way to see it. These are: stereotactic-guidance (using mammography or x-ray, imaging), ultrasound-guidance, and MRI-guidance.

Stereotactic Biopsy

This image-guided biopsy procedure uses paired mammogram images of the suspicious finding 30° apart which are processed using specialized equipment and computer software. The radiologist analyzes these paired images to accurately aim and guide the biopsy needle to the targeted suspicious finding in the breast. Several series of images are used to ensure a reliable biopsy diagnosis.


Ultrasound-guided Biopsy

This image-guided biopsy procedure uses live, real-time ultrasound imaging to guide the biopsy needle directly to the targeted suspicious finding. The radiologist conducts the live imaging and directly observes the position of the needle while performing the biopsy to ensure a reliable and accurate biopsy diagnosis.


MRI-Guided Biopsy

This image-guided biopsy procedure uses 3-D MRI imaging with contrast enhancement to identify the suspicious finding. The imaging is processed using specialized equipment and computer software to aim and place the needle appropriately at the target. Several series of imaging are required during the procedure to ensure appropriate and reliable placement of the needle and acquisition of tissue samples from the targeted finding. MRI-guide biopsies take a little longer, lasting about 1 hour.