Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy 

An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy uses imaging technology to locate abnormalities within breast tissue.  An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure used to collect and evaluate a small sample of breast tissue. During the procedure, ultrasound imaging is incorporated to identify the precise location of the breast mass or abnormal tissue that requires testing. Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed images of breast tissue and other internal structures. 

When is an Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy Recommended?    

Ultrasound-guided biopsies are most often performed to diagnose or rule out breast cancer. A physician may order this test if a mammogram, breast ultrasound or clinical breast exam exposes:  

  • A lump or mass within breast tissue  
  • An area of breast tissue that is hard or dense  
  • A change in the structure of breast tissue   

Non-cancerous breast conditions can also be identified through an ultrasound-guided biopsy test, including fibroadenomas, cysts, calcifications and sclerosing adenosis.  

What Does an Ultrasound-Guided Breast Biopsy Involve? 

An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is an outpatient procedure that is usually completed in less than an hour. Here’s how it works:  

  • The patient undresses from the waist up and lies on an exam table with her arm raised above her head.  
  • A local anesthetic is injected into the breast to numb any discomfort.   
  • A warm gel is applied to the breast, and a small, hand-held device called a transducer is glided over the breast to locate the mass or abnormality in question.  
  • Once the area of focus is identified, a tiny incision is made in the breast to insert a small biopsy needle.  
  • Small amounts of tissue are drawn from the breast, sometimes with the assistance of a vacuum device.   
  • The incision sites are bandaged and the procedure is complete.  

Following an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, breast tissue samples are sent to a laboratory for evaluation. Results will be shared with a radiologist, who will report the findings to the patient and her care team. 

What Can I Expect?   

Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy does not involve radiation and typically does not cause scarring. Pain is considered to be minimal, with the most common side effects being temporary bruising, swelling and mild discomfort. Applying an icepack to the breast and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help alleviate any discomfort. Most patients are advised to avoid strenuous activities for at least a day following the procedure.  

Tampa General Hospital is home to breast health experts who provide a full spectrum of advanced diagnostic services, including ultrasound-guided breast biopsies and precision imaging.