A breast biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of breast tissue that is examined and to check for breast cancer. A breast biopsy usually is ordered when a lump is found during a breast examination or a suspicious area is found on a mammogram, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Because a small needle will be inserted into your breast, it is very important that you review your medications with the radiologist prior to your biopsy. You will need to discontinue aspirin, ibuprofin, and blood-thinners such as Plavix or Coumadin several days in advance, so be sure to discuss this with your physician before you schedule your biopsy. The type of biopsy you have will determine how you prepare for the procedure. For stereotactic biopsy, follow the preparations for a mammogram; for biopsies with ultrasound or MRI guidance, prepare for the corresponding procedure.
After your biopsy is complete, the biopsy site is bandaged with strips of medical tape. No stitches are necessary. A nurse or the technologist will apply pressure to the site to minimize any bleeding. You will receive written instructions about precautions and how to care for yourself at home. If you have pain or discomfort after your biopsy, applying ice and taking pain medications such as Tylenol can help, although the vast majority of patients have no symptoms. Nearly all breast biopsies are done on an outpatient basis. Because they are done with no conscious sedation or general anethesia, you can drive yourself home, just as you would after a dentist appointment. Many women can return to work unless their job requires physical activity or lifting. If a work excuse is needed, let the technologist, nurse, or radiologist know and they will be glad to help.