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Breast Biopsy


What is it?


A biopsy is a sample of tissue obtained to look at its microscopic structure and cells. It can also be used for other tests such as hormone receptor status.

It is different from a fine needle aspiration (FNA)which only looks at cells and not structure.


Why do I need it?


You may have felt a lump in your breast, and the xrays and ultrasound may have revealed a lesion. Alternatively, you may have had a FNA which was suspicious or inconclusive.

The cell type and structure in a lesion helps your doctor or surgeon make a definitive diagnosis and formulate a management plan.


How is it performed?


At Uniradiology, the breast biopsies are performed under ultrasound only. Xray guided or stereotactic biopsies are not performed.


The Radiologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to sign a standardised consent form.


The procedure is done with you lying on your back. The skin is prepped using an antiseptic solution. An ultrasound probe is used to localise the lesion. An injection of local anaesthetic will be given prior to the biopsy needle being inserted. One or several samples may be taken, depending on the lesion.


When the biopsy is taken you will hear a loud click, which is the needle taking the sample. It is important to stay still at this time. A dressing is used on the wound and you will be given an ice pack to place on the wound site.


An uncomplicated procedure involving one lesion should take around 10-15 minutes.


The sample is sent to pathology. Usually results take around one week.


Are there any risks with the procedure?


Bleeding is usually self limiting and pressure on the wound immediate after the procedure can minimise bleeding and bruising.


Infection is rare. If there is any redness, swelling, pain or if you develop fevers after the procedure, contact your local doctor as you may require antibiotics.

In patients with breast implants, there is a very small chance of the needle perforating the implant. If this happens you will need to see a surgeon for further management. Please inform us when you make the booking if you have breast implants.


Is it painful?


The local anaesthetic will sting for several seconds, after which you should not feel any pain. You will however still feel pushing as the procedure is being performed.


After the procedure the local anaesthetic will wear off, and the breast may be uncomfortable. If required, a simple analgesic such as Panadol can help. However if there is excessive pain, or any associated redness, swelling or bleeding you should contact the Radiologist or your local doctor.


What can I expect after the procedure?


You should expect some bruising which will disappear over the next several days. The dressing can be removed in 24-36 hours. You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours after the procedure.


You may find it uncomfortable to drive after the procedure, and having someone drive you home may be helpful. However, usually driving after the procedure is not a problem.


How should I prepare for the procedure?


If you are on blood thinning medication, such as Aspirin or Warfarin, it may be appropriate to cease these prior to the biopsy. Please discuss this with your doctor and inform us when making the appointment.


Please bring in any breast imaging and reports with you on the day.


Are there any upfront costs?


There are no upfront costs if you have a Medicare card.


What if I have more questions?


Please feel free to contact us if you require further information.