With today’s imaging technology, a breast biopsy is considerably easier for patients than even just 10 years ago. A minimally invasive image-guided needle biopsy is a highly accurate alternative to a surgical breast biopsy. Our expert imaging technologists and radiologists use ultrasound, mammography, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging to guide the biopsy needle to the precise location for tissue extraction on an outpatient basis.
A biopsy of a patient’s breast tissue for laboratory testing is sometimes necessary to diagnose an abnormal or otherwise suspicious finding observed through breast imaging. The imaging allows your breast care providers to find abnormalities earlier, to biopsy them earlier, and to diagnose them before the patient needs to see a surgeon. The most common image-guided biopsies use ultrasound or mammography.
Ultrasound technology uses high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images of organs and structures inside the body. With this biopsy, the patient lays on their back. Using ultrasound as a guide, the radiologist draws a small mark on the skin where the abnormality is located, cleans and numbs the skin, then extracts small samples using a needle. A tiny piece of titanium, the size of a poppy seed, is inserted to mark the area, should further investigation be necessary. The titanium marker can stay in the patient indefinitely, so if there are issues in the future the radiologist can tell exactly where the biopsy was done.
A mammogram uses low-dose X-rays to produce detailed images of your breasts. Calcifications are small deposits of calcium that can show up on mammograms—they do not show up on ultrasounds or MRIs. While the vast majority of calcifications are associated with benign breast tissue and aging, they can sometimes mark an area with cancer. A mammography-guided biopsy can confirm whether or not the breast tissue is benign. The patient is seated in a chair, the breast is compressed, as is done with a typical mammogram, and several images are taken to ensure the correct location of the tissue to be biopsied. Again, the radiologist marks, cleans, and numbs the area, then inserts the needle to obtain the tissue.
Breast MRI is quite thorough and can identify more than an ultrasound or mammogram. MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnet to capture remarkable images of internal organs and tissues. For a breast biopsy using MRI guidance, the patient lays on their belly, some images are taken, then the radiologist inserts the marker as is done with the other guided biopsies. More pictures are taken to ensure the marker is correctly positioned. Samples are taken when the precise location is confirmed.
All three of these minimally invasive breast biopsy procedures are available through Saratoga Hospital’s Women’s Imaging Center, located on the Wilton campus, which features some of the region’s most advanced women’s imaging technology. We’re proud to say that Saratoga Hospital patients can be confident they are receiving imaging services of the highest quality. The American College of Radiology has designated Saratoga Hospital a Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence—the highest national recognition available. This applies to imaging services at both the hospital and Wilton Medical Arts.
For more questions about breast biopsies or other breast health topics, please talk with your provider. You can also find an overview of our Center For Breast Care program here. Learn more at SaratogaHospital.org.