A biopsy is a procedure where a sample of tissue is removed from the body and examined under a microscope by a pathologist to help in making a diagnosis.
Whilst many scans and X-ray tests give us a very clear understanding of a patient’s likely diagnosis, the most accurate way of coming to a definite diagnosis is often to look at a sample of tissue from an area where a patient is experiencing symptoms or where an abnormality has been found on a scan.
WHAT DOES THE PROCEDURE ENTAIL?
Most breast biopsies can be done in the South Bank X-ray department by a specialist breast radiologist at the same time that your mammogram or ultrasound scan are performed. The breast skin overlying the area to be biopsied is injected with local anaesthetic to leave it temporarily numb and make the procedure more comfortable. The radiologist can then carry out the biopsy, often using an ultrasound machine to guide the biopsy. Gentle pressure is then applied to this area for a few minutes to minimise bruising, and a dressing can be applied.
Very occasionally, if the area which needs to be biopsied is not amenable to a biopsy in the X-ray department then a surgical biopsy may be recommended. This is often done with the patient asleep under a general anaesthetic in the operating theatre, usually as a day case procedure.
Results from a breast biopsy may take anywhere from two to seven days to come back depending upon the nature of the biopsy. Biopsy results are discussed within the Worcestershire breast multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting and then an appointment will be made with you to go through the results in detail.
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