Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is the removal of tissue or cells from your breast by a needle placed through the skin and sent to Pathology for examination.


    A breast biopsy is the removal of tissue or cells from your breast by a needle placed through the skin and sent to Pathology for examination.

    Breast biopsies may be performed using mammography, ultrasound or MRI for guidance.

    If your Doctor or our Radiologist has recommended a breast biopsy for you, this will be explained to you and you will be given an opportunity to ask questions. We also have some printed reading material available.


    Please advise our team when you are making an appointment if you are taking any medications that thin your blood as you may need to stop these temporarily before your biopsy. Please also discuss this with your referring Doctor.

    Please ensure that you bring your request form, any relevant previous imaging along with your Medicare card and any concession cards to your appointment. A doctor’s referral and an appointment are required for all examinations.


    On the day of your biopsy it is best to arrive in a two-piece outfit and you will be asked to change into a gown. Our nurse will discuss the procedure with you in detail and give you the opportunity to ask questions.

    The breast biopsy is performed by a Radiologist using local anaesthetic to ensure the area to be biopsied is numb. Several samples are usually taken and these are sent to a Pathologist for examination under the microscope.

    A breast biopsy usually take less than 30 minutes and you will be required to remain for a few minutes after the procedure for observation.


    Most women can return to normal duties after a breast biopsy but we ask you to refrain from vigorous exercise or heavy lifting on the day of your procedure.

    The radiologist who performs the interventional procedure will complete a report regarding the procedure and forward to your referring doctor.

    The breast biopsy results are usually available within 2-4 days and will be sent directly to the referring doctor. It is very important you book a timely follow-up appointment to discuss the results and effectiveness of the procedure.


    As with most medical procedures there are slight risks involved. The risks involved are dependent upon the exact nature of the procedure you have been referred for; however, the benefits generally outweigh the risks.


    Mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations sometimes identify abnormalities in the breast that cannot be felt by a doctor.

    If the abnormality is to be surgically removed, it is necessary to place a fine wire (called a hookwire), into the breast with its tip at the site of the abnormality. The wire acts as a marker during surgery and enables the surgeon to identify the correct area of breast tissue.

    Mammography, ultrasound, or MRI scans are used to guide the hookwire into the correct position. The wire is called a hookwire because there is a tiny hook at the end, which keeps it in position.


    A doctor’s referral and an appointment are required for this examination.

    Please also bring along your request form, any previous imaging, and your Medicare card/any concession cards to your appointment.

    Usually, this procedure will be performed a few hours before you have surgery. There is no preparation required for the hookwire localisation, but there will be preparation for the surgery that follows the hookwire localisation. Preparation instructions/information for the surgery will provided to you by your surgeon.


    Before the procedure you be asked to remove all jewellery and clothing from the waist up and change into a loose-fitting examination gown.

    The skin of the breast will then be washed with antiseptic before a very fine needle is used to give local anaesthetic to numb the breast in the area for biopsy. The local anaesthetic may sting for a few seconds when it is being given, and after this the area will become numb.

    The radiologist will then insert a fine needle into the tissue to be removed. Images will be taken to check the position of the needle, once it is in the correct position, a fine wire is passed through the centre of the needle and the needle is removed, leaving the hookwire in place. A final set of images will be taken to show the surgeon where the tip of the wire lies in relation to the abnormality that is to be removed.


    Following the hookwire placement, a piece of the fine wire will be protruding from the breast. This projecting wire will be taped down to the skin and the hookwire remains in the abnormality in the breast. The surgeon will remove the wire together with the abnormality at the time of the operation. Your previous imaging and the images from the Hookwire Localisation will be sent with you to the operating theatre so that the surgeon may refer to them.

    The purpose of the hookwire procedure is to provide a physical guide for the work of the surgeon. As it is not an investigation, there are usually no results for the hookwire procedure itself other than a written description of what was done and provision of the guidance images.

    After surgery, the surgeon will give you the pathology result for the tissue removed, when you have your appointment with the surgeon after the operation.


    Hookwire localisation is a simple procedure to perform, and most women will experience no problems. Problems that can occur on rare occasions are;
    • movement of the hookwire after placement and before surgery is performed (which reduces the accuracy of the surgery), and
    • Wire dislodgement. This occurs usually because the breast is composed of fatty tissue which provides a poor grip for the hookwire).

    If you are travelling to another facility for your surgery with a hookwire in position, you need to take care. Dislodgement may occasionally occur with very little movement. If dislodgement occurs, you may need to have the procedure repeated because the tip of the wire will no longer be situated in the lesion that needs to be removed.

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