- Dr. James Vopal
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The Breast Care Center of the Treasure Coast
801 Osceola Street
Stuart, FL 34994
Phone: (772) 220-4050
Fax: (772) 220-0502
Diagnosis - Vacuum Assisted Biopsy
The relatively new vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a percutaneous (through the skin) procedure that relies on stereotactic mammography or ultrasound imaging. Stereotactic mammography involves using computers to pinpoint the exact location of a breast mass based on mammograms (x-rays) that are taken from two different angles. The computer coordinates help Dr. Vopal to guide the needle to the correct location in the breast. With ultrasound, Dr. Vopal will watch the needle on the ultrasound monitor to help guide it to the precise area of concern. The patient will either be positioned in the upright or prone (face down) position for a vacuum-assisted biopsy.
Vacuum-assisted biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows for the removal of multiple tissue samples. However, unlike core needle biopsy, which involves several separate needle insertions to acquire multiple samples, the special vacuum-powered biopsy probe used during this type of biopsy is inserted only once into the breast. A small nick is made in the skin of the patient's breast and the doctor is able to remove more tissue than with a standard biopsy.
Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is commonly performed on breast abnormalities that cannot easily be located by feel alone. As with other breast biopsies, it draws cell samples from breast abnormalities to determine whether or not they are cancerous. Our staff will provide you with specific instructions regarding eating, drinking and taking medications before the biopsy; be sure to follow them closely.
If you are required to remain in a prone position for the vacuum-assisted breast biopsy, a slightly different examination table is usually used. The exam table used for breast imaging contains openings through which the breasts are placed, making it easier for the technology to capture a thorough visual of the tissue.
Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy Procedure
A vacuum-assisted breast biopsy typically lasts about 45 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis. Patients are generally given a local anesthetic, although sedation is an option for those experiencing a good deal of anxiety. After the anesthetic has made your breast numb, a tiny incision will be made at the insertion site for the biopsy needle. The needle is then inserted through the incision, and imaging is done to ensure that the needle has been properly introduced into the abnormality. With the assistance of vacuum power, several tissue samples are then pulled out from the breast and placed into a special container. After the sample has been taken, a titanium clip may be inserted in the breast to mark the area in case surgery is required. No stitches are necessary and scarring is very minimal.
After the Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy Procedure
Once the tissue samples have been obtained, the needle is removed from the breast and pressure is applied to the site of the biopsy to stop bleeding. A bandage is then used to cover the area. You will return home the same day, although exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for the next 24 hours. Ice can reduce any bruising and discomfort you may experience and over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken as needed. The tissue samples are sent to a pathology lab for further testing; when the results are ready, your doctor will discuss them with you.
Risks of Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy
While the vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is generally considered a very safe procedure, all procedures carry a slight risk of complications. Some patients may experience discomfort, although this can be easily managed with over-the-counter painkillers. Other risks include excessive bleeding and infection at the site of the biopsy, although these rarely occur. You can further minimize complications by choosing a qualified physician for your vacuum-assisted breast biopsy.