Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy Contraindications

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Mammogram for Breast Cancer Diagnosis

A mammogram is a procedure used to view the contents of the breast using x-ray techniques. It is one of the first types of tests ordered by the doctor if he or she suspects a woman might have breast cancer. In many developed countries, women are required to have regular mammograms after reaching a certain age. For example, routine mammograms in Canada are scheduled for women every two years who are over the age of 50.

A mammogram result which indicates the possible presence of malignancy is followed up with a breast biopsy.

What Is A Biopsy?

A vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a type of biopsy in which tissue material is removed from the breast using biopsy and ultrasound techniques. A biopsy is the simple procedure of removing tissue from a part of the body. The material can be removed by it being cut away, having cells scraped from the surface of the organ, or using a needle to obtain a sample. This is usually done under local or general anesthesia and the tissue sampled removed is dissected, viewed, and tested for certain diseases such as cancer. The most common biopsies are of the liver, bone, and intestine.

In the past breast biopsies consisted of numerous needles being inserted into the breast to remove tissue, and ensure there is enough for testing and diagnosis. However, since vacuum-assisted breast biopsy involves ultrasound and a vacuum to remove samples, only one needle needs to be inserted to remove multiple samples of breast tissue.

Why Is The Test Ordered?

A physician orders this test if they suspect an unusual growth within the person’s breast. This lump can be either benign or cancerous and, this is one way in which the doctor can determine if the lump is cancerous, and the type of cancer the person has. There are three main types of breast cancer: ductal, lobular, and inflammatory breast cancers. If the person has a cancerous growth, further tests may be necessary to determine the exact course of treatment.

Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy Contraindications

The test is performed by removing a sample of tissue from the breast. Therefore, even though it is less invasive that previous biopsies, there are certain vacuum-assisted breast biopsy contraindications. The contraindications involve bleeding at the site of the needle entry. Therefore the doctor may be concerned about doing this procedure in someone with poor blood clotting.

Another of these vacuum-assisted breast biopsy contraindications can be seen in the size and shape of certain breast lesions. In some people, more surgically invasive biopsies might be needed to properly locate the lesion to be treated. This is particularly important for lesions suspected to be cancerous.

The next vacuum-assisted breast biopsy contraindications is the risk of infection. If the patient is likely to develop an infection from this then this procedure could be contraindicated.

This procedure is also contraindicated for pregnant or nursing women. Any woman who is pregnant or nursing should speak to their doctor before doing any procedure.


Print Source: Cotran R, Kumar V, and Robbins, SL. 1999. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease, 6th Ed. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia.

Web Source: Imaginis Corporation, “Vacuum-Assisted Biopsy.” 2010. Available: