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Breast Specialist » Core And Vacuum Biopsy


What is a core biopsy of the breast?

A core biopsy takes a small slither of tissue from the abnormal area and this avoids taking the specimen by means of an operation. This tissue taken can then be examined under a microscope.In a vacuum biopsy  a suction machine is used to help obtain the sample of tissue. This is done under mammogram or ultrasound guidance. A larger sample of tissue is taken. A small marker may be left in the breast. The marker is not harmful and can be left in the breast indefinitely. This is a slightly longer procedure.

Are there any risks in having a core biopsy?

There are generally no risks in having a core biopsy. Occasionally, there may be some bleeding inside the breast and a bruise or swelling (haematoma) will form. Obviously care has to be taken that no infection occurs.

Who will you see when you have a core biopsy?

If the lump is palpable and or seen with the ultrasound scanner I will perform the biopsy. When an abnormal area is seen only on mammograms it is likely that the radiologist  will do the biopsy.
Are you required to make any special preparations for a needle core biopsy?
No. It is important that you tell the doctor or the radiographer that you are taking tablets to thin the blood (anticoagulants)

What does a core biopsy entail?

If the abnormal area can  be seen on an ultrasound scan the scan is used to guide the needle accurately into the area. The skin over the lump will be numbed by local anaesthetic, which may sting briefly. A small nick  is made in the skin to assist entry of the biopsy needle. The needle is attached to a device the gun’ which quickly fires the needle into the lump with a loud clicking noise. This takes a slither of tissue from the lump. The needle is then withdrawn from the breast and the specimen removed from it. The process may be repeated.
If the abnormal area can only be seen on the mammograms, then the procedure needs the X-ray machine to help guide the needle. This is called a X ray guided  or stereotactic  biopsy. For this, the breast is compressed in exactly the same way as for a mammogram, but for a slightly longer period of time.

How long will the core biopsy take?

It may take upto 10 minutes with ultrasound guidance. It may take up to 30 minutes if it is necessary to use the mammography machine.

Will the core biopsy hurt?

You may feel some stinging when the local anaesthetic is injected, The area soon goes numb. During the biopsy, you will probably only notice the loud clicking of the biopsy ‘gun’. If there is bruising and a swelling (haematoma) forms afterwards, this may be uncomfortable for a day or two afterwards.