Vacuum-assisted biopsy

What does the procedure involve?

Vacuum-assisted biopsy (VAB) is similar to CNB but uses a larger needle to extract larger pieces of tissue. It is usually used with ultrasound to remove entire breast lumps up to 2cm in size. When used with mammograms, it can extract calcifications (white spots found in mammograms) for examination under the microscope. The procedure is done under local anaesthetics and through a 5mm skin incision.

What kind of results does it give?

VAB removes breast lumps and so provides histological diagnosis with minimal risk of sampling error. It also provides histological diagnosis of calcifications found on mammograms.

When should I consider a VAB?

VAB is usually used to biopsy small breast lumps (usually <5mm) and mammographic calcifications for histological diagnosis. It is also a good and minimally invasive way of removing benign breast lumps (<2cm in size). VAB is not suitable if a lump needs to be removed intact (i.e. in the case of a papilloma) or with
a clear margin.

What are the risks?

The risk of VAB include bleeding, bruising, temporary swelling and scarring (including keloid scarring). Because the needle is deployed under direct control with real-time ultrasound or under mammogram guidance, there is a very very small risk of injuring the chest muscles, ribs and lungs. There may be a little bit of discomfort
afterwards, which goes away with paracetamol (Panadol).

Procedure information

  • Type of Anaesthetic: Local anaesthetics. Possible to have intravenous sedation
  • Length of procedure: 20-45 minutes
  • Nights in Hospital: Day admission to hospital or radiology centre. VAB under ultrasound can also be done our operating room in our clinic.
  • Recovery: Few days dependent on the amount of bruising (7-14 days hospitalisation leave given)