An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy procedure uses sound waves to search for any abnormalities or lumps and it removes a sample of the cell tissue for examination. The benefit of this type of biopsy is that it isn’t as invasive as a surgical biopsy. It will therefore leave no scarring and you will not have to experience radiation.
So, what is the procedure, after a lump is detected physically through a routine appointment at your GP surgery or through a mammogram then further tests usually need to be done to determine exactly what the lump is and how much of a risk to your health it is. Is it cancer, or just a cyst or a fatty deposit. The biopsy is therefore carried out to determine whether the lump contains cancerous tissue.
In order to prepare for the procedure, you should wear loose fitting clothing, and remove all jewelry or be prepared to remove once you are there. You will be asked to wear a gown. Your doctor should be aware of any medications that you take including herbal ones and they should be aware of any allergies that you have. If you have been advised to stop taking some of your medication before the procedure, then you must confirm that you have done this. Do not allow the procedure to go ahead if you have not done this. If you have had any other recent problems or illnesses again make sure that the doctor is aware of those before the procedure goes ahead.
Some of you may have never seen an ultrasound scanner before, so what is it like? It is just a large machine and console with a computer and a transducer which is the part that is used to do the scanning. This is a small device that will be held by a member of the medical team it is about the size of a microphone and it sends out high frequency waves, you do not hear a thing. The transducer is placed on the breast and effected area and the team will immediately see images on the monitor of the computer.
Once at this stage the procedure can take a few different turns, a fine needle may be used to grab a sample of the tissue or a core needle may be used. The process could also use a vacuum assisted device or a thin guide wire. Whichever implement is used they will all be with the same aim of grabbing a sample of the tissue.
You will be wide awake during the procedure and you should feel nothing more than a slight bit of discomfort. You will receive a local anaesthetic to numb the skin and a tiny bit of pressure when the needle goes in, the area will become numb within seconds. If you do have a tiny bit of discomfort after the process, which is unusual, you will just be advised to take an over the counter pain relief. If you do feel excessive swelling or bleeding, which again is very uncommon make sure that you contact your physician immediately.