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Based on the results of your breast ultrasound, a doctor (radiologist) has recommended a Breast Ultrasound Core Needle Biopsy.  Breast tissue samples are removed with a core needle. The ultrasound guides the needle to the location of concern.

Before the Biopsy

A Breast Center nurse will review all prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.  You may need to stop blood thinners before the biopsy.  The nurse will discuss this with you.  

A nurse will review all allergies. This includes all medicines, latex, metal, and tape.

You will be awake for the biopsy.  If you would like a relaxant to calm you before the biopsy, please contact your primary doctor. This must be arranged in advance. The Breast Center does not provide these medicines. If you decide to take a relaxant, you must have someone drive you home after the biopsy. You should not drive or make important decisions until the next day. 

You do not need to fast before the biopsy. If you are diabetic, follow your regular diabetic care regimen.

Wear a two-piece outfit. You will be asked to undress from the waist up.

Do not wear talcum powder, lotions or deodorant on the breast and underarm area. 

Your stay at the Breast Center will be about 1-1/2 hours.

During the Biopsy

You will need to lie on your back on the exam table. You will be awake for the exam. Gel will be placed on your breast. The area of concern will be located using ultrasound. 

Your breast will be cleaned with an antiseptic. This may feel cool on your skin.

The doctor will inject a numbing medicine (Lidocaine) into your breast. You may feel a sting. Our goal is that you not feel any pain after this is given. You may feel pressure during the procedure. If you do feel pain, let the staff know. 

The doctor will use ultrasound to guide the biopsy needle to the correct area. A small nick will be made in the skin of your breast. The doctor will then insert the needle using the ultrasound computer image as a guide. This ensures that the tissue sample is taken from the correct area.

When the biopsy samples are taken, you will hear a clicking or whirring sound as a piece of tissue is removed.  The samples will be sent to pathology to be examined under a microscope. 

After the biopsy, a small titanium marker will be placed in the breast. This will mark the area of the biopsy. It will be seen on future mammograms. There are no known risks with having the marker. You do not need to worry about metal detectors or MRI procedures. Titanium is not affected by this type of equipment.

The needle will be removed from your breast.  There may be slight bleeding. Pressure will be applied to the site to stop any bleeding. The site will be covered with thin strips of tape (Steri-Strips®).  An ice pack will be applied for about 10 minutes.

A final mammogram will be performed to check the position of the marker clip. 

Care After the Biopsy

After the biopsy you will be assessed for any bleeding. A protective bandage is placed over the biopsy site.

Your pathology results will be done in 3-4 working days. Your doctor’s office or the Breast Center staff will call you with your results.

For the first 24 hours, avoid forceful arm movements and do not lift more than 10 pounds. You may return to work and most activities the next day.

Apply ice to the biopsy area for 20-30 minutes at least 3 times the day of the biopsy. After that day, use ice as needed. This will help to reduce swelling and pain. Do not place ice directly on the skin.

Remove the protective bandage the next day. The Steri-Strips® will loosen and come off on their own in about 7 days. If they are still in place after 7 days you may gently remove them.

We suggest you wear a supportive bra to minimize breast movement. A sports bra works best.

You may shower the next day. Pat the biopsy site area dry. Do not soak in a tub or pool for 48 hours.

You may have some mild discomfort and bruising. This should go away in about a week. You may use Tylenol for this pain. Take as directed. You may take Ibuprofen as needed 24 hours after the biopsy as long as there is no sign of bleeding.

Monitor for any signs of infection: 

  • Temperature over 100.4°F

  • Significant swelling, firmness or warmth 

  • Increased redness

  • Drainage around the site that is pus-like.

Please call if you have bleeding that soaks the bandage or that is flowing from the site.  Hold firm pressure to the site if this occurs.  It is normal to have a small amount of blood (dime to quarter size) show through on the bandage.

Phone Numbers

If you have questions or concerns about your care, please call the following numbers.  Normal working hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

UW Health Breast Center at the University Hospital  

Normal working hours:  608-266-6400

After hours and weekends, call (608) 262-2122.  This will give you the paging operator.  Ask to speak to the radiologist on call.  Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code.  The doctor will call you back. 

UW Health Breast Center at 1 S Park Street: 

Normal working hours:  608-287-2933

After hours and weekend, call 608-417-6000. Ask to speak with the radiologist on call at Meriter/Unity Point Hospital.

For medical emergencies, call 911.