Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston contend that needle biopsies work just as well and are cheaper, less painful, faster, and less complicated than traditional surgical biopsies.
Traditional biopsies require general anesthesia, a fairly large incision and stitches. Needle biopsies require only local anesthesia and take about an hour to perform. The tests causes minor bruising and leaves a small hole at the point where the needle was inserted.
Dr. Jack Meyer and colleagues conducted 1,836 needle biopsies for more than 1,600 women over a six-year period. These women’s mammogram results showed breast tissue irregularities that could not be felt in a manual examination.
Meyer and colleagues feel that needle biopsies are an especially good option for women whose mammograms show numerous, tiny irregularities that could not easily be excised from the breast. Researchers believe that needle biopsies are effective and found no evidence that the procedure failed to recognize instances of malignancy.