Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy

An ultrasound-guided biopsy is a procedure in which ultrasound imaging is used to aid a physician in obtaining a sample of suspicious tissue. The procedure, which is also called a sonotome biopsy, is a less invasive, faster alternative to surgical biopsy that leaves little scarring.

Reasons for an Ultrasound-Guided Biopsy

A biopsy may be necessary when a physician needs to determine whether tissue or a mass is cancerous. An ultrasound-guided biopsy may be necessary when a physician discovers:

  • A solid tumor or mass
  • Abnormalities in the structure of tissue
  • Other unusual tissue change

Ultrasound guidance can be used in four types of biopsy procedures:

Fine-Needle Aspiration - In this procedure, fluid or cells in a suspicious area are extracted using a very small needle.

Core Needle - In a core-needle biopsy, a large hollow needle is used to remove one sample of breast tissue per needle insertion.

Vacuum-Assisted Device - In this procedure, a vacuum-powered device collects, in a single insertion, several tissue samples for later testing.

Wire Localization - During the wire-localization procedure, a wire guides the surgeon in locating a lesion that will be surgically removed.

The Ultrasound-Guided-Biopsy Procedure

Before the ultrasound-guided biopsy, the physician will discuss any preparations, such as stopping medication or restricting diet, with the patient. Generally, patients who regularly take aspirin, prescription blood thinners, or anti-inflammatory medication should stop taking them a few days prior to the biopsy, but may resume taking them 24 hours after the procedure.

During the procedure, the patient is positioned on a table, and the skin at the biopsy site is numbed with local anesthesia. Ultrasound imaging is used to help the physician guide a special needle through a small incision. Either a small sample or the entire mass is removed, and the incision closed.

There is minimal pain and bruising during an ultrasound-guided biopsy. The procedure may take up to 30 minutes, and results are available within 24 to 48 hours. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 24 hours.

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