If a female patient presents with a lump in the breast or abnormal mammogram results, her physician may order a breast biopsy. There are a number of procedures of this type available; some patients will receive a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB), which extracts a small amount of tissue or fluid from the area, while others will undergo a core needle biopsy or a surgical biopsy to give physicians a larger sample.
The first step for patients going through a core needle biopsy is an imaging process using ultrasound or x-ray technology. This helps the physician place the needle in the correct area. If the abnormality is particularly difficult to locate, a radiologist may perform additional imaging to pinpoint the exact location for sampling. This is known as a stereotactic core needle biopsy and is most often used for small calcifications. The core needle biopsy typically lasts approximately one hour and involves minimal discomfort, as the patient usually receives local anesthetic.