Breast Excision Biopsy

Breast excision biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of breast tissue containing suspicious breast growth is removed and examined in the laboratory for the presence of cancer. Breast biopsy involves the surgical removal of the entire mass of abnormal tissue for analysis.

When the abnormality is not palpable it must be localised before removal. This is performed on an outpatient basis under local anaesthesia and sedation either the day before or the day of surgery depending on the method. The two methods I routinely use are wire localisation and isotope localisation.

Wire Localisation: Wire localisation is used for lesions that can only be seen on mammogram such as micro calcifications. This is done on the morning of surgery. It will be very similar to your biopsy procedure. With the guidance of mammography or ultrasound, the radiologist inserts a needle into the abnormal area. The needle is removed, leaving behind a thin flexible wire which acts as a guide during surgery. The wire is held in place with a dressing.

Isotope Localisation: Isotope localisation is used for lesions that can be seen on ultrasound. You will be lying down for the procedure. Ultrasound is used to find the lesions and a small amount of radioisotope is injected either around or on top of the lesions. This allows me to find the lesion using a gamma probe at the time of surgery. It is very similar to having a needle biopsy and is usually not painful. It is accurate and well tolerated. The isotope disappears after 24 hours and is safe for you and your family. This is usually done the day before surgery.

Surgery: I will make a small incision to remove the abnormal tissue. The tissue is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. The incision is closed with dissolvable sutures and covered with a sterile, waterproof dressing which should be left in place until you see me in clinic with your results. I will make every effort to put your incision in a cosmetically acceptable place.

Commonly Asked Questions

When can I go back to work?

Depending on your surgery and your job, you may need a week off work. Most patients have their surgery on Friday and are back to work on Monday.

When can I drive?

You need to be able to make an emergency stop safely. As the seatbelt crosses your chest you will need to wait a week before you can drive safely.

When can I go back to the gym?

A week before you start back at the gym is usual. You can do lower body exercises such as cycling and walking almost immediately. Listen to your body and if it hurts, stop and wait a few days before trying again.

What do I do with my wound/dressing?

The stitches are dissolvable and the dressing is waterproof so you can shower as normal. Please do not bathe or swim until it has been cleared by your surgeon.

When do I get my results?

You will be seen 1 week after your surgery in clinic to discuss your results and have a check up

As with any surgery, breast biopsy may involve certain risks and complications including scarring, altered breast appearance, infection, poor healing and bleeding.