Preparing for your breast biopsy

When your doctor schedules you for a breast biopsy, it can create feelings of fear, worry, intimidation or stress.

It is natural to be nervous about any medical procedure. However, as much as a breast biopsy helps to diagnose cancer, it also helps rule it out. Having a biopsy does not necessarily indicate a cancer diagnosis.

What is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some tissue from the suspicious area in the breast and examine it under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. A biopsy is most helpful when mammography, ultrasound or MRI shows a mass, a cluster of calcifications or areas of abnormal tissue enhancement.

Types of biopsy procedures

There are several types of breast biopsy options available to patients. Some are more invasive than others, but all of the options help to identify the mass or cluster found in your original diagnostic test:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy and cyst aspiration
  • Core needle biopsy
  • Vacuum-assisted core needle biopsy
  • Stereotactic core needle biopsy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided core needle biopsy

To learn more about the different types of breast biopsies, click here.

How do I prepare for my breast biopsy?

At UofL Health, all breast biopsies are performed in the outpatient setting and usually take between 10-15 minutes.

If you take blood thinners, especially Coumadin (Warfarin), please let your radiologist know several days before your biopsy. In many cases, you can continue blood thinners on the day of the procedure, but you should consult with the radiologist performing your biopsy as well as your prescribing physician to minimize bleeding/bruising risks while avoiding any complications potentially arising from stopping your blood thinner. You may continue to take your other daily medications. Also, let the radiologist know if you have any drug allergies.

There are no diet restrictions on the day of your procedure, so eat and drink as usual.

Wear a supportive bra and refrain from using deodorant, lotions or powder.

When will I know the results?

After the biopsy, the tissue sample is taken to the pathology lab. Results generally take three to five business days to return. You will then receive a phone call from your physician with the results.

UofL Health offers multiple locations for mammograms and other services such as breast biopsies. To schedule a screening mammogram at UofL Health, call 502-681-1405.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, call UofL Health – James Graham Brown Cancer Center at 502-562-HOPE (4673) or visit our website at UofLBrownCancerCenter.org.

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About Brian Mattingly, M.D.

Brian Mattingly, M.D., is director of breast imaging at UofL Health – James Graham Brown Cancer Center and Medical Center East. He specializes in mammography, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI, as well as imaging guided biopsies and procedures using these modalities. He received a bachelor’s degree from Centre College, a master of science in biomedical engineering from the University of Kentucky and a medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He completed his internship in internal medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Ind., and both his radiology residency and breast imaging fellowship at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Ind. He is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology and is a member of the Society of Breast Imaging; American College of Radiology; Radiological Society of North America; and the American Roentgen Ray Society.

All posts by Brian Mattingly, M.D.