Vacuum Assisted Biopsies

Vacuum-assisted biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves taking a sample of breast tissue for examination.

The procedure is performed using either MRI, mammography, or ultrasound as guidance in order to indicate exactly where the biopsy needle needs to be placed to accurately extract breast tissue sampling.

Vacuum-assisted biopsy replaces a surgical biopsy and is far safer as it is performed under local anaesthetic. Patients may experience discomfort, but very little pain during the examination.

Benefits of vacuum-assisted biopsy

Compared to surgical biopsy, vacuum-assisted biopsy:

  • Has a fast recovery time.
  • Causes very little scarring.  
  • Can remove small abnormalities.
  • Accurately places a biopsy needle at the site of small abnormalities.
  • Avoids unnecessary surgical biopsies of non-cancerous abnormalities.
Brunette woman smiling whilst holding pink breast cancer ribbon
Brunette woman smiling whilst holding pink breast cancer ribbon

How to prepare for a Vacuum Assisted Biopsy

To prepare for your vacuum-assisted biopsy:

  • Wear a two-piece, comfortable outfit.
  • Advise your radiologist if you have any drug allergies.
  • Avoid applying deodorant on the day of the procedure.
  • Inform your radiologist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Inform your radiologist if you are taking any blood-thinning medication.
  • Bring any previous breast imaging with you before the day of your procedure.

Vacuum Assisted Biopsy FAQs

Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions around Vacuum Assisted Biopsies:

How long does a vacuum-assisted biopsy take?

The appointment time for a vacuum-assisted biopsy is about one hour. However, if a titanium clip is inserted at the time of the biopsy, it is recommended that a limited mammogram is performed before you leave to allow the radiologist to ensure that the clip is accurately placed by the biopsy site.

What happens during a vacuum-assisted core biopsy?

Depending on the type of equipment in the practice, the procedure can either be done lying down or sitting upright in a chair. The breast will be placed between two compression plates and a series of X-rays will be taken (like that of a normal mammogram). Once the abnormality has been located, the overlying skin will be cleaned, and a local anaesthetic will be injected into the skin and breast tissue. Thereafter, the radiologist will make a small incision and use a special needle attached to a vacuum device to remove the breast tissue.

Once extracted, the samples will be sent away to a pathology centre to be examined under a microscope to determine whether there is cancer or another type of breast condition.

When can I expect the results from my vacuum-assisted biopsy?

The vacuum-assisted biopsy results will be sent to a pathology lab for examination; this can take approximately 48-72 hours. The results will then be given to you by your radiologist.

Brunette woman smiling whilst holding pink breast cancer ribbon
Brunette woman smiling whilst holding pink breast cancer ribbon

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