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Minimally Invasive Breast Biopsy 

Breast cancer is a common form of cancer that occurs in women, and occasionally in men.  Self-breast examination, clinical breast examination, mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to detect breast lumps or abnormalities.  A biopsy is performed on suspicious breast tissue.  A biopsy entails obtaining a tissue or fluid sample and examining the cells to determine if they are cancerous.  Traditionally, breast biopsy methods have been invasive surgical procedures that remove both the suspicious tissue and healthy tissue around it.  Today, there are several minimally invasive breast biopsy methods that accurately diagnose breast cancer but conserve breast tissue.

Advanced technology has helped to make minimally invasive breast biopsy methods a possible alternative to surgical biopsy for some women.  The procedure involves using ultrasound and stereotactic imaging to locate the suspicious area and guide the biopsy procedure.  Stereotactic breast biopsy uses sophisticated imaging and computers to pinpoint the location of the suspicious area.  The accuracy of the stereotactic equipment eliminates the need for an invasive surgery and allows surgeons to remove a tissue sample with a needle. The minimally invasive methods are quick, use only local anesthesia, and usually require no stitches. Individuals usually can resume their regular activity levels in about 24 hours.  Further, the minimally invasive biopsy methods are as accurate as invasive surgical biopsy methods for identifying breast cancer cells.

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Minimally invasive breast biopsies are outpatient procedures that require local anesthesia.  Your doctor will discuss your options and determine the most appropriate biopsy method for you.  Some of the more common minimally invasive breast biopsy methods are listed below.

Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB)
Fine needle aspiration biopsy uses a very thin needle to withdraw fluid or tissue samples.

Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy
Stereotactic core needle biopsy uses a thicker needle than FNAB to remove several tissue samples.

Mammatone® uses a needle and suction to remove a cylinder shape of suspicious tissue.  The needle is inserted once, but its angle can be adjusted to take continuous tissue samples.  A tiny metal marker may be placed at the site in case cancer treatments are necessary.

Advanced Breast Biopsy Instrumentation (ABBI)
Advanced breast biopsy instrumentation  uses a special needle that has a rotating blade that can be adjusted to remove different sizes of tissue.  ABBI can even remove small cancerous areas.  This minimally invasive surgical method may require a few stitches to close the incision.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit