Biopsies may need to be performed using the mammogram equipment. This only occurs if the area to be biopsied is not visible under ultrasound.

Using special attachments to the mammography equipment, core biopsies can be performed using stereotactic guidance, using an aseptic technique. For more information see CORE BIOPSY.

The procedure is much the same as under ultrasound, but you will be sitting on a chair or lying on a special trolley while the procedure is performed. Local anaesthetic is used and the mammographers will make sure it is as comfortable a procedure as possible.

These procedures are only performed out our rooms at Burnside Hospital (Attunga Medical Centre) and St Andrew’s Hospital (MRI section).

This involves taking a sample of tissue through a needle. The needle is guided into place using x-ray.

You will be positioned in the best way to access the area to be biopsied. The area will be cleaned with antiseptic and local anaesthetic administered. A tiny incision will be made in the skin before the core needle is inserted with x-ray guidance. It is often necessary to make more than one pass of the needle to obtain a sufficient sample.

Once the biopsy has been completed, a site marker is placed within the biopsy site whilst still in the mamography machine, so that the area may be identified by either Mammogram or Ultrasound for future reference, if any surgery is required depending upon the biopsy result. The site marker is made of either titanium or stainless steel; it is inert and safe to stay in your body indefinitely. It does not ‘beep’ at airport security. Another Mammogram will be performed at the conclusion of the procedure to confirm position of site marker.

After the biopsy is completed, one of our nurses will compress on the biopsy site for 10 – 15 minutes, and then place steri-strips bandage on the small skin incision. You will have a bruise that typically lasts for 2 weeks and you may manage any bruising or discomfort with compression and ice packs and pain relief such as paracetamol if required.

The sample is sent to a pathology laboratory where the specimen is later analysed. Results are usually available in 2 to 3 days. The report will be sent to your referring doctor who will then convey these results to you. The pathology company may also charge a gap for these services. Please discuss this with us if you have any questions.

Risks or Side Effects

Potential risks include infection and bleeding.

  • Aseptic technique is used to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible.
  • There may be some mild bruising at the site.
  • The needle may puncture a blood vessel.
  • Rarely, excessive bleeding can occur into the biopsy site.
  • The biopsy may not obtain an adequate sample of tissue. This may require a repeat biopsy.

Before your Scan

Please inform us if you are on medication to thin your blood (eg. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel). You may need to stop this prior to the procedure after discussion with your doctor.

It is important that you have someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Specific Requirements

It is essential that your previous mammogram and ultrasound films are available at the time of the biopsy. Please bring these with you to your examination if you have them.

Other Information

  • Steristrips and a waterproof dressing will cover the incision.
  • The outer dressing should remain in place for at least 24 hours, the steristrips are left to gradually lift off after a few days.
  • You will be given an ice pack to use to reduce bleeding and discomfort.
  • You may eat and drink immediately after the procedure.
  • You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours following the biopsy.
  • You may experience some discomfort following the procedure.
  • If required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol), NOT Aspirin, should be sufficient.
  • A small ice pack applied to the area may help settle pain.
  • Bleeding and infection are potential complications. If you notice any increasing redness, swelling, fever or pain, notify your referring doctor or call the clinic where the injection was performed immediately

If you have not been contacted about your results in 1 to 2 weeks please contact your referrer.