Needle biopsy is a medical test performed by interventional radiologists to identify the cause of a lump or mass, or other abnormal condition in the body. During the procedure, the doctor inserts a small needle, guided by X-ray or other imaging techniques, into the abnormal area. A sample of tissue is removed and given to a pathologist who looks at it under a microscope to determine what the abnormality is – for example, cancer, a noncancerous tumor, infection or scar.
Needle Breast Biopsy
Many lives can be saved when women have routine mammograms – an X-ray examination of the breast that can detect breast cancer in its earliest, most curable stages. However, most of the abnormalities seen on mammograms are not cancer. Often, the only way to make a diagnosis is to perform a biopsy in which a sample of tissue is removed from the breast for analysis – a procedure that in the past required painful and disfiguring biopsy surgery. Today, interventional radiologists often can make a diagnosis without surgery with a technique called needle breast biopsy. In the technique, an X-ray guided needle is used to remove small samples of tissue from the breast. It is less painful, much less disfiguring (there is no scar) and requires a shorter recovery time than surgical biopsy.
Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology © 2004, www.SIRweb.org. All rights reserved.