MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy

When a lump or abnormality is detected in the breast, it is not always possible to determine whether the growth is cancerous or benign from imaging tests alone. A breast biopsy is often performed to remove cells from the suspicious area of the breast for further examination.

An MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a biopsy that is performed with the guidance of an MRI scan. As with other breast biopsies, this type of procedure draws cell samples from breast abnormalities to determine whether or not they are cancerous. In addition, a vacuum-assisted device, or VAD, is also used during this procedure. A VAD is vacuum-powered needle which can collect multiple tissue samples through one needle insertion during the biopsy.

Benefits of MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy

Research suggests that MRI is the most effective imaging technique for identifying abnormalities of the breast, as well as elsewhere on the body. The MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsy takes less time than a surgical biopsy, and since tissue is extracted with only one needle insertion, the risk of damaging tissue is decreased.

The MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy Procedure

An MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is performed on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic, although sedation is an option for anxious patients. An MRI machine with a slightly different examination table is used for MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsies. The exam table used for a breast MRI contains openings through which the breasts are placed, making it easier for the machine to capture their image. After the anesthetic has numbed the breast, a tiny incision will be made at the insertion site of the biopsy needle. The needle is then inserted through the incision while an MRI is performed to ensure that the needle has precisely located the abnormality. With the assistance of vacuum power, several tissue samples are then extracted from the breast.

After 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 applied to the area. An MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsy usually lasts about 90 minutes. Patients can return home the same day, although exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for 24 hours.

The Risks of an MRI-Guided Breast Biopsy

While an MRI-guided vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is considered a safe procedure, all procedures carry a slight risk of complications. Patients may experience some discomfort at the incision site, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Other risks of the biopsy may include:

  • Bleeding at the incision site
  • Infection

Tissue samples of the biopsy are sent to a lab for analysis. After reviewing the results, the doctor will discuss them directly with the patient and create a customized treatment plan.