Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy

This information explains what to expect during your ultrasound-guided breast biopsy.

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About Your Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is a procedure done to take samples of tissue or cells from your breast to check it for cancer.

First, you will have an ultrasound done to find the exact area of your breast to biopsy. An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your body.

Once your radiologist (doctor who specializes in image-guided procedures) finds the area to biopsy, they will guide a thin needle into your breast. They will remove a sample of tissue or cells. The sample is then checked for cancer.

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The Day of Your Procedure

Things to remember

  • You may eat and drink as usual on the day of your procedure.
  • You may shower the day of your procedure.
  • Don’t put on any lotion, powder, or deodorant.
  • Wear a button-down or loose fitting top.
  • If you’re female, bring a tight-fitting bra to wear after your biopsy to support the biopsy site on your breast and make you more comfortable.

What to expect

Once you arrive at the hospital, doctors, nurses, and other staff members will ask you to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar names may be having procedures on the same day.

You may be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any necklaces, chains, and earrings you’re wearing.

Your technologist will bring you to the scanning room and help you onto the exam table. Once you’re comfortable, your radiologist will begin your ultrasound. They will apply a gel to your breast and then move a small device over the surface of your skin. Once they find the area of your breast to be biopsied, they will give you an injection (shot) of a local anesthetic (medication to make an area numb).

After the area is numb, your radiologist will make a small incision (surgical cut) in your breast and insert a thin needle. They will remove samples of tissue or cells. The samples will be sent to the Pathology Department to check it for cancer.

Your radiologist will leave a small marker at the area of your incision to help your doctor see where you had your biopsy. You won’t be able to feel this marker. Your radiologist will then put Steri-Strips (thin pieces of paper tape) over your incision.

Your procedure will take about 1 hour.

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After Your Procedure

  • After your procedure, you will have your post-biopsy mammogram to make sure the marker is in the right place. After your mammogram, your technologist will place a bandage over the Steri-Strips.
  • Your nurse will give you the resource Caring for Yourself After Your Image-Guided Breast Biopsy for instructions on how to care for your biopsy site.
  • Your radiologist will call you with your biopsy results in 3 to 5 business days (Monday through Friday). They will also send a report to your doctor. Your doctor will use the results of your biopsy to help plan your care.

If you have questions after 5:00 pm, during the weekend, or on a holiday, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the Radiology Body fellow on call.

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