What is core needle biopsy?

    Core needle biopsy is an imaging procedure used in the diagnosis of a lump or other breast abnormality. The clinician inserts a needle with a special cutting edge into the questionable area of the breast. Very thin slivers of tissue are removed. The pathologist can then look at the tissue under a microscope to determine the cause of the problem. The needle is usually positioned using ultrasound, or a special x-ray called a stereotactic device.

    What can I expect to happen during this procedure?

    Your breast will be cleaned with iodine and alcohol to produce a sterile area through which the needle can be inserted. Xylocaine (like novocaine) is used to numb the area before the core needle device is introduced. You will feel pressure and movement of the needle, but you should not feel any pain. If there is any discomfort, more xylocaine can be used.


    How long does the procedure take?

    You can expect your appointment to last about an hour. The period of time in which the needle is inserted is usually not longer than ten minutes. In most cases, between 3 and 5 tissue slivers are removed to increase the likelihood of getting a good sample.


    Is core needle biopsy safe?

    This procedure is extremely safe. Most women do experience some bruising around the place in the breast where the needle is inserted. A little bleeding may occur but vigorous bleeding is very uncommon. An infection is a potential complication, but this is extremely uncommon.


    What should I do to prepare for my appointment?

    Since a core needle biopsy may cause some temporary bruising, please do not take any medication that may make you more likely to bleed. Aspirin, ibuprofen and any drugs containing either of these ingredients should be avoided for five days before the biopsy is scheduled since they may cause bleeding. If you have any unusual bleeding tendency, please talk to your doctor about this before you come in for your appointment.

    This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.

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