General & Breast Biopsy Patient Prep

Why Do I Need A Breast Core Biopsy?

The radiologist who interpreted your breast imaging exam, or your physician or surgeon, has advised you to have a breast biopsy because of an abnormality that was detected on your breast imaging exam, such as mammogram or sonogram. The doctor may have detected abnormal calcifications (calcium deposits) or noted a mass, lump or density on the mammogram or sonogram. A biopsy, or sampling of tissue, is therefore needed to evaluate the area in question. Most biopsy results are negative, that is, no sign of cancer, but biopsy is needed to make this determination. If breast cancer is present, it can be detected with great accuracy by breast core biopsy, without the use of surgery.

Are There Different Kinds Of Breast Core Biopsy Procedures?

Yes. Washington Radiology Associates uses state-of-the-art medical equipment to perform Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy and Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsy. These biopsy procedures often provide an alternative to surgery. They are considered “minimally invasive.” Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy uses a digital mammography system with computer display and software to guide a needle to the area where samples of tissue will be taken. Ultrasound Guided Needle Core Biopsy uses ultrasound equipment to visualize the area on the breast and direct the needle to the area where the biopsy is needed.

What Happens During The Biopsy?

For the Stereotactic Core Biopsy, the patient lies face downward on a special table, with the breast to be biopsied slightly compressed and suspended through an opening in the table. Images are then taken to localize the area for biopsy. A local anesthetic is given to numb the skin and breast tissues beneath it. This will eliminate pain during the procedure, but you may still feel some pressure. A small nick is made in the skin and the biopsy needle is directed to the biopsy site where small tissue samples are obtained. These are collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis by a pathologist. The final result will be given to you by the radiologist who performed the biopsy, or by your doctor. Final results are usually available within one week.

The ultrasound guided core biopsy is performed in a very similar way to the stereotactic biopsy. The patient lies on her back on the ultrasound table. A brief localizing ultrasound is performed. The skin and breast tissues are then numbed with local anesthetic and a nick is made in the skin, through which the biopsy needle is inserted. The small samples (cores) of tissue are obtained and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

With either type of biopsy, a marker may be placed at the biopsy site in the breast for future follow up. This does not affect breast tissue and cannot be felt in the breast. The marker will not cause a problem with other exams, such as MRI scan. A mammogram will sometimes be taken after a breast core biopsy, usually to check the position of the marker. Some patients will be asked to return for a follow up mammogram or breast ultrasound six months after the biopsy.

How Do I Prepare For A Breast Core Biopsy?

There is very little preparation. We recommend that you refrain from taking aspirin, aspirin-containing products and anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or Aleve) for five days prior to the biopsy procedure. If you are taking a blood thinner, such as Coumadin, check with your referring physician before your biopsy, as you may need to briefly discontinue use of this drug. If you have any questions concerning whether you should continue taking a specific medicine prior to your biopsy procedure, please contact our office at least five days before the date of your scheduled biopsy. On the day of your biopsy, wear a comfortable two-piece outfit (including a comfortable supportive bra). Do not use powder, lotion or deodorant. Do not eat a large or heavy meal on the day of your biopsy.

How Long Will The Biopsy Procedure Take?

Most biopsies are completed fairly quickly. You can expect a Stereotactic Biopsy to take 1-2 hours, including paperwork. An Ultrasound Core Biopsy will usually take 45 minutes to 1 hour.

How Do I Know If A Breast Core Biopsy Is Right For Me?

If a biopsy of the breast is recommended, the WRA radiologist or your health care provider can talk to you about various methods for performing breast biopsy, including core biopsy. Most abnormalities that are seen on a mammogram or breast ultrasound can be biopsied with a breast core biopsy. But some are not appropriate for this method, and a surgical biopsy would then be advised. If the core biopsy result is benign (noncancerous), you will usually be able to avoid surgery. If the result shows cancer, a core biopsy will help plan the recommended surgical treatment.

Is A Breast Core Biopsy Safe And Accurate?

Yes, breast core biopsy is a very safe procedure. At WRA, our radiologists have extensive experience performing breast core biopsies at our offices every day. Breast core biopsy has an accuracy rate of about 98%. There is no significant difference in accuracy for core biopsy compared with surgical (sometimes called “excisional”) biopsy. However, whenever a needle enters the body there is always a small risk of infection or bleeding. This is about 1%. Serious complications that require immediate medical attention are extremely unusual. If any problem should arise after your procedure, you should contact your referring physician or the radiologist who performed the procedure.

Scheduling Appointments

Washington Radiology provides imaging services for patients upon referral from a referring physician. Patients are seen by appointment. However, emergencies do occur and we make every attempt to accommodate these cases. To schedule a breast biopsy at Washington Radiology, please have your physician order and insurance card, and call: Centralized Scheduling (703) 280-9800.

WRA Performs Breast Biopsies At The Following Locations:

Washington, DC

University Medical Building
Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsy
2141 K Street, NW Suites 200 & 900
Washington, DC 20037

Northern Virginia

Four Seasons Three
Stereotactic Core Needle & Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsies
3022 Williams Drive
Suites 200 & 204
Fairfax, Virginia 22031

Lakeside At Loudoun Tech Center I
Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsy
21351 Ridgetop Circle
Suite 100
Sterling, Virginia 20166

Suburban Maryland

Chase Tower
Ultrasound Guided Core Needle Biopsy
4445 Willard Avenue
Suite 200
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815

Potomac, MD

12505 Park Potomac Avenue
Ground Floor (Street Level) - Suite 120
Potomac, MD 20854
Phone: (240) 223-4700
Fax: (240) 223-4701
Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm