This involves taking a small sample of tissue (cells) through a needle. The needle is guided into place by ultrasound, mammogram or MRI.
You will lie in the scanner on your front with your breasts in a special coil (the same as when you underwent your diagnostic scan) and enter the scanner head first. During the examination, you will have a normal diagnostic scan which will involve the injection of contrast dye (Gadovist) to locate the area to be biopsied.
During the biopsy process, the bed you are lying on will be moved in and out of the machine for additional imaging to ensure the correct region is being targeted and for placement of the biopsy needle.
The scan is noisy, so you will be given headphones and a buzzer to press if you want to talk to the technologist at any time. It is important that during the procedure, you lie extremely still.
After the biopsy is completed, a nurse will compress on the biopsy site for 10 – 15 minutes, and then place steri-strip bandages on the small skin incision. You will have a bruise that typically lasts for two weeks, and you may manage any bruising or discomfort with compression and ice packs and pain relief such as paracetamol (Panadol) if needed.
Once the biopsy has been completed, a site marker is placed within the biopsy site whilst you are still in the MRI machine, so that the area may be identified by either mammogram or ultrasound for future reference if any surgery is required depending upon the biopsy result. The site marker is made of either titanium or stainless steel; it is inert and safe to stay in your body indefinitely. It does not ‘beep’ at airport security. A mammogram will be performed after the site marker has been placed to confirm its position.
Before your Scan
Please tell our staff when making your appointment if you are on blood-thinning agents – for example, warfarin, aspirin, and fish or krill oil. We may ask you to stop these medications or consult with your specialist who is referring you for the study.
Please fast for 4 hours before the procedure, as you will lie on your stomach for approximately 45 minutes.
Please tell our staff before your scan if you suffer from claustrophobia (fear of small spaces). If sedation (medication to relax you) is required, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.
Risks / Side effects
As part of the MRI examination, you may need to have an injection of a contrast agent (dye) known as Gadolinium. This medication is administered intravenously (injection into vein) through a needle. Overall MRI contrast injection is a safe procedure. Occasionally patients feel a little nauseous but this only lasts momentarily. More serious allergic type reactions, although possible, are extremely rare. The staff in the MRI department are fully trained to deal with such a reaction should it occur.
The entire process (preparation and imaging) can take 45 – 60 minutes.
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