Pin Me

Types of Breast Biopsies

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 10/31/2009

Several types of breast biopsies can be used to detect cancerous cells, each with differing levels of invasiveness and reliability. The skill of the surgeon and the size and location of the lump also play a role in which type of biopsy is used.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Fine Needle Aspiration

    Fine needle aspiration is a biopsy procedure that is relatively non-invasive. This procedure is used to drain fluid-filled cysts so that a fluid sample can be analyzed to determine if cancer cells are present. It is possible that the fluid sample collected during a fine needle aspiration will be too small to accurately determine if cancerous cells are present. If an inexperienced physician performs the procedure, it is also possible that cancer cells will be trailed into other areas of the breast. Normal activities can usually be resumed the same day as the procedure, with the exception of lifting heavy objects. Any post-procedure pain can be relieved with acetaminophen, but aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided, as they can increase bleeding.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Core Needle Biopsy

    Core needle biopsy is a procedure that is used to remove several cores of breast tissue so that cancerous cells can be detected. This procedure involves the use of a vacuum device that helps to remove tissue from the breast. This increases the risk of bleeding and pooling of blood in the breast. The biopsy site can also become infected or cause pain. Core needle biopsy also carries the risk that the needle will puncture the chest wall and cause one of the lungs to collapse. Recovery from core needle biopsy is usually uncomplicated, but ice packs or cold compresses are necessary to reduce bruising and blood collection at the site of the procedure.

  • slide 3 of 4

    Incisional Biopsy

    If a breast lump is too big to remove without causing a breast deformity, an incisional biopsy may be used. This procedure involves the removal of a large piece of suspicious breast tissue so that it can be analyzed to determine the cause of the lump. This procedure can cause scarring of the breast, along with bruising and pain at the procedure site. After the procedure, a patient is monitored for several hours to ensure that anesthesia or biopsy complications do not occur. The stitches that are used to close the biopsy site must be removed within two weeks of the surgery. Patients should avoid heavy lifting for two weeks after this procedure.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Excisional Biopsy

    Excisional biopsy is the complete removal of a breast lesion. This procedure is the most invasive of all the breast biopsies, and can cause swelling and scarring at the biopsy site. It can also cause soreness and pain of the breast tissue. During this procedure, the surgeon may use ultrasound technology to locate the breast lesion so that it can be removed. There is a risk of anesthesia complications following this procedure. It is necessary to avoid heavy lifting for two weeks after an excisional biopsy, and the stitches must be removed in approximately ten days.