DEFINITION: A breast biopsy is the best way to evaluate a suspicious area in your breast to determine if it is breast cancer. A breast biopsy is performed to remove a small sample of breast tissue that will be sent for laboratory testing. Through laboratory testing, doctors can diagnose and identify abnormalities in the cells that make up breast lumps or other unusual breast changes.

MRI-guided breast biopsy uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to generate detailed pictures of breast anatomy and pinpoint the location of suspicious areas within the breast as a guide for the biopsy to take place.

WHAT TO EXPECT: For your MRI-guided breast biopsy, you will be asked to change into a gown and to remove jewelry, hairpins, eyeglasses, watches, wigs, dentures, hearing aids and underwire bras, as these items are a safety concern while around our magnetic equipment.

You will then be asked to lie facedown on a padded scanning table. Your breasts will fit into a hollow depression in the table that aids the machine in detecting magnetic signals. The entire table will slide into the opening of the machine as images of your breast are acquired. A contrast agent (dye) may be injected through an intravenous (IV) line in your arm to enhance the appearance of tissues or blood vessels on the MRI pictures.

During the MRI scan, the internal part of the magnet produces repetitive tapping and other noises. Earplugs may be provided to help block the noise. You'll be instructed to breathe normally but to lie as still as possible, as movement can blur the resulting images. A technologist monitors you closely from another room and will be able to come to your assistance immediately if you need anything.

Using the images acquired during the MRI scan, the radiologist will locate the mass within your breast and make a small incision in your breast. He or she will insert a needle to remove several samples of tissue. Our radiologists will take special care to make sure you are as comfortable as possible during the procedure. The radiologist will place a small clip into your breasts to mark the area where the sample was removed. This is to enable us to identify the biopsy site in the future. The samples we collect will then be sent to our laboratory for analysis. The procedure will take approximately two hours.

HOW TO PREPARE: Before the breast biopsy, tell your doctor if you are taking any medications or have any allergies. Do not take any analgesics, vitamin E or blood thinners for seven days prior to your biopsy.If you still have menstrual periods,you must schedule your MRI-guided biopsy between days seven and 14 of your menstrual cycle. Let the facility know where you are in your cycle so that optimal timing for the breast MRI can be arranged. If you are worried about feeling claustrophobic during the scan, talk to your doctor beforehand, as they may be able to prescribe you medication to help with your anxiety. We ask that you please bring copies of your mammogram images with you from previous exams at other facilities. If you are over the age of 70, have diabetes and/or kidney problems, you will need to have a blood test to check your kidney function.

RESULTS: After the biopsy, your breast tissue is sent to our laboratory, where a pathologist will examine the tissue and create a pathology report. The report includes details about the size, color and consistency of the tissues sampled; the location of the biopsy site; and whether cancer cells are present. The biopsy report is then sent to your doctor. Our patient navigator or one of our radiologists will share the results with you. Should you need further care, you and your doctor will work together to develop a treatment plan that best suits your needs.