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Excisional Breast Biopsy


An excisional breast biopsy is a surgical procedure to remove a lump from your breast. It is also called a lumpectomy. An excisional breast biopsy is done to diagnose one or more lumps in the breast. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing. Most breast lumps are benign (not cancer).


Before your biopsy:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • Pre-op care: You may have an ultrasound or mammogram before your procedure to find the exact location of your lump. An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to show the inside of your breast on a screen. Healthcare providers may use a guidewire to show the location of the lump. A needle and guidewire will be put through your skin until it reaches the lump. A mammogram will be done after the guidewire is placed to make sure it is in the right area. You may be given medicine right before your procedure to help you feel relaxed and sleepy.
  • Anesthesia medicine:
    • Local or monitored anesthesia: This is a shot of numbing medicine put into the skin where you will have your procedure. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not have pain. With local anesthesia, you will be awake during the procedure. With monitored anesthesia care, you will also be given medicine through an IV. This medicine keeps you comfortable, relaxed, and drowsy during the procedure.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your procedure:

An incision will be made in your breast, and your healthcare provider will remove the breast lump. A small amount of tissue around the lump, called a margin, will also be removed. The tissue is sent to a lab for tests. Healthcare providers may x-ray the tissue taken to make sure the entire lump was removed. Your cut is closed with stitches, and a bandage will be put over your wound. The bandage keeps the area clean and dry to help prevent an infection.

After your procedure:

You may be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will check your wound for bleeding. Do not get out of bed until healthcare providers say it is okay. Healthcare providers will tell you when you can go home.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Ice: Healthcare providers may put ice over your wound to help decrease pain or swelling.


  • You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia medicine used for your procedure. The excisional biopsy may not have gotten the entire lump, and you may need another biopsy. If a guidewire is used to locate the lump, the guidewire may move out of place. Nerves near your breast may be damaged during the procedure, causing you to have decreased feeling in your breast. After your biopsy, you may have pain in the area where the biopsy was done. You may have nausea, vomiting, weakness, and dizziness. Your wound may bleed, your breast may bruise and swell, and you may get an infection. Your breast may have a different shape after the lump is removed.
  • If you do not have an excisional breast biopsy, you may not learn if the lump is cancer. Breast cancer may spread to other areas of your body and become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Excisional Breast Biopsy (Inpatient Care)

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