Patient & Visitor InformationContact Us
  • Locations

    Rhode Island Hospital

    APC Building

    Providence, RI 02903


    . . . . . .

    The Miriam Hospital

    164 Summit Avenue

    Providence, RI 02906


  • Breast Biopsy

  • If your mammogram and other tests show a lump or any change in your breast, a biopsy is the only way to determine if the suspicious area is cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of breast cells and/or tissue from the area of concern is removed and examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

    There are many types of biopsies ranging from minimally invasive procedures to surgery. Your doctor will determine which kind you need based on the size and location of the lump or breast change, other medical conditions you may have, and your personal preference. Most biopsies can be performed through minimally invasive methods.

    What are the types of breast biopsies?

    There are three types of biopsies: fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy and surgical biopsy. In a core needle procedure, actual breast tissue is removed (typically five to six samples). In fine needle aspiration, a tiny sampling of cells is removed.
    Here are specific biopsy methods that fall under these categories:

    • MRI guided breast biopsy

    • Ultrasound guided breast biopsy

    • Stereotactic breast biopsy

    • Wire localization

    How do I prepare?

    A breast biopsy requires more preparation than other diagnostic tests:

    • Do not take aspirin or aspirin products (Bufferin, Excedrin, Ecotrin, etc.), or anti-inflammatory medicines (Ibuprofen, etc.) for seven days before your biopsy. It's okay to take acetaminophen products (Tylenol, etc.).

    • Stop taking blood thinners (coumadin, warfarin, etc.) four days before your procedure. You will be required to have blood work two days before your biopsy.

    • Do not eat after midnight the night before your biopsy.

    • Do not eat or drink on the morning of your biopsy.

    • You can take your regular medications with a sip of water the morning of your biopsy.

    • You will need someone to drive you home and be with you the night of the procedure.

    If you take aspirin or blood thinners (i.e., coumadin) less than seven days before your biopsy, please call us, as we may need to reschedule your appointment for a later date.

    What should I expect after?

    Your doctor will apply pressure to the biopsy site to prevent bleeding and will apply an adhesive bandage. You may need to apply medicine or ice to the area, or change the bandages at home. Your doctor will discuss with you specific information related to showering, bathing and wound care.

    If you had a surgical biopsy, you most likely will have stiches and dressings over the site. It's important to keep the area dry and avoid strenous activity for a few days to prevent bleeding. Your doctor will remove the stiches at a follow up appointment.

    You may take an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary; however do not take aspirin or aspirin products for three days after your biopsy. You may experience minor bruising at the site, but this should go away within a few days.

    How do I get my results?

    Your biopsy will take approximately one hour, and recovery time at the hospital can take up to three hours, but may vary depending on the type of procedure you're having. Your tissue samples will be examined by a pathologist and the results will be sent to your doctor, who will discuss with you.