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Vacuum-assisted Breast Biopsy


Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a surgical procedure to remove a lump from your breast. It may be used to diagnose lumps that are small, deep, or cannot be felt. A needle attached to a suction is used to remove tissue from the breast. Healthcare providers may use an ultrasound with a monitor to guide the procedure.


Before your procedure:

  • 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.
  • Local anesthesia: Medicine is used to numb the area of your body where the surgery or procedure will be done. It is usually injected into the skin.

During your procedure:

  • Anesthesia medicine will be given to numb the area where the procedure will be done.
  • Your healthcare provider will make a small incision in your skin where the lump is located. The needle probe will be inserted through this incision and slowly moved to the area of the lump. A small amount of breast tissue will be suctioned, cut, and collected in the probe. When enough samples are taken, the probe will be removed. A marker or clip will then be placed in the area. The clip will show up on mammograms, but will not set of a metal detector. Pressure will be applied to the area and the incision covered with a bandage. The samples collected will be sent to a lab for tests.

After your procedure:

A small bandage is put over the incision. This helps keep the area clean and prevents infection. You may need to wear a device that puts pressure on the biopsy area and helps stop bleeding. You will be able to go home after the procedure.


A vacuum-assisted breast biopsy may cause bruising or discomfort in the area where the biopsy was done. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. If a nerve is hit, an abnormal reflex may occur. This may cause a slowing of heartbeat, decreased blood pressure, loss of consciousness, or too much sweating. If you do not have the breast biopsy, you may have cancer and not know it.


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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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