Breast Imaging - Main Campus
111 Colchester Avenue
Main Pavilion, Level 2
Burlington, VT 05401
Image-guided breast biopsies at the UVM Medical Center
If you find a lump in your breast or imaging of your breast shows an abnormality, a breast imaging radiologist may recommend an image-guided breast biopsy. Guided by imaging technology, your breast imaging specialist will use a small needle to take a tissue sample from the area of concern and send it to the pathology laboratory for study.
While breast biopsies are a common test used to diagnose cancer, they also help rule out diseases dangerous to your health, giving you peace of mind. Most breast biopsies do not lead to a cancer diagnosis.
At The University of Vermont Medical Center, our comprehensive breast imaging services feature specialists with extensive experience performing breast biopsies. Assisted by compassionate, knowledgeable radiology technologists, our radiology physician experts treat you with the utmost care for your concerns and comfort throughout the procedure.
Offering you the latest treatments and techniques, the UVM Medical Center breast imaging team uses state-of-the-art imaging technology to ensure precision and accuracy for all breast biopsies. Our services include:
- Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy: This test uses sound waves to create images of tissue within your breast during an image-guided breast biopsy. An ultrasound technique, it allows your breast imaging radiologist to view the biopsy needle in real time on a medical imaging monitor and precisely guide it into your breast to the specific area of concern.
- Stereotactic breast biopsy: This procedure uses special mammography technology that relies on computer coordinates to map the exact location of breast abnormalities. This guidance allows your breast imaging radiologist to place the biopsy needle accurately into the area of concern for precise sampling of potentially cancerous cells and tissue.
- MRI-guided biopsy: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides multiple cross-sectional images of your breast and combines them to create computer-generated, highly detailed 3D pictures. This imaging method for biopsy needle guidance is used when an MRI exam shows an abnormality that cannot identified by mammography or ultrasound.
Your breast imaging physician will select the breast imaging test that provides the best view of the area being targeted for biopsy, as well as one that is most comfortable for you.
Conditions we treat with breast biopsies
Image-guided breast biopsies provide a minimally invasive, non-surgical method for examining suspicious growths detected on imaging. A breast biopsy may also be necessary if you any of the following symptoms:
- Breast lumps, small masses or cysts
- Nipple changes, such as bloody discharge and crusting or scaling
- Dimpling skin
What to expect from a breast biopsy
Your specially trained breast imaging technologist will give you a thorough explanation of the procedure. They will stay with you throughout your breast biopsy to ensure your comfort and well-being. At times, a medical assistant will be present during your biopsy to provide additional support.
To prepare for the procedure, you will need to undress from the waist up and put on a hospital gown that opens in the front.
During your biopsy, the skin on your breast will be cleaned. Your breast will then be numbed with local anesthesia. You should not feel any pain during the procedure.
In the procedure room, you will lie on your back on a padded table. We will ask you to raise your arm above your head on the side of your body where we are taking the biopsy. The technologist will apply a gel to the breast being examined. The gel maximizes contact between the hand-held ultrasound transducer and your skin to ensure the ultrasound machine produces the highest quality images. The breast imaging radiologist will press the ultrasound transducer against your skin. The transducer sends and receives the sound waves from the ultrasound machine to create images of the inside of your body.
In the procedure room, you will be asked to lie face down on your stomach on a special table. Your technologist will gently place your breast through an opening in the table. Similar to a mammogram exam, your breast will be compressed between two flat plates so that we can take a low-dose X-ray (mammogram). This mammogram enables us determine the exact location of the area to be sampled. Your breast will remain in compression throughout the exam. By holding still during the procedure, you will help us to capture the highest quality images so that the breast imaging radiologist can accurately position the biopsy device.
The MRI unit is a large, cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. You will be asked to lie face-down on a special table with your arms above your head. Your breasts will fit into cushioned holes in the table, and the breast undergoing the biopsy will be placed in compression. Your technologist will active the motorized table, which then slides into the scanner. During the procedure, you must lie still for approximately 45 minutes to ensure that we find the exact area of your breast we need to biopsy. Subtle movements can blur the MRI images. The MRI machine makes loud thumping noises during the imaging process. You will be provided with ear protection to help reduce the noise and increase your overall comfort.
Awards and certifications
At the UVM Medical Center, we are proud to be nationally accredited in ultrasound-guided breast biopsies by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the American College of Radiology. This certification means our services meet nationally recognized standards of clinical excellence in breast ultrasound.
Of particular note, the UVM Medical Center’s Department of Breast Imaging has earned an American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation. This highly coveted accreditation is awarded to centers that achieve rigorous requirements of the profession in all breast imaging modalities, including ultrasound, mammography and MRI.