Semi back now, it being a Darvocet sort of night here. This was different than the other biopsy, and it’s a lot more painful, a much bigger shock to the system – even before the Lidocaine wore off, my head was blown, that strong shocky feeling rattling my bones down. I’ve spent most of the day clutching an ice pack to my chest like a child with a teddy bear, shivers of pain running down my side and arm, the arm itself held tight to my side. Bird with a broken wing…
I didn’t get half the stuff on my list done, I couldn’t. It is still yelping at me through the darvocet fog, further away and muffled, but present, tracking my movements…
“You will lie face down on a moveable exam table and the affected breast or breasts will be positioned through an opening in the table.
The table is then raised and the procedure is then performed beneath it.
The breast is compressed and held in position throughout the procedure.
A local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it.
Several stereotactic pairs of x-ray images are taken.
A very small nick is made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle is to be inserted.
The radiologist then inserts the needle and advances it to the location of the abnormality using the x-ray and computer generated coordinates. X-ray images are again obtained to confirm that the needle tip is actually within the lesion.
Tissue samples are then removed using one of two methods.
- In a core needle biopsy, the automated mechanism is activated, moving the needle forward and filling the needle trough, or shallow receptacle, with ‘cores’ of breast tissue. The outer sheath instantly moves forward to cut the tissue and keep it in the trough. This process is repeated three to six times.
- With a vacuum-assisted device (VAD), vacuum pressure is used to pull tissue from the breast through the needle into the sampling chamber. Without withdrawing and reinserting the needle, it rotates positions and collects additional samples. Typically, eight to 10 samples of tissue are collected from around the lesion.
After the sampling, the needle will be removed.
A final set of images will be taken.
A small marker may be placed at the site so that it can be located in the future if necessary.
Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.
A mammogram may be performed to confirm that the marker is in the proper position.
This procedure is usually completed within an hour.”
The needle is the size of a pencil, the vacuum hisses, there was blood on my gown. Take a picture in black and white, confirm the site, the needle waiting in my breast. Compression, steri strips and mammograms; gauze and ice packs; the samples on their styrofoam tray. My head blown. Tagged and released, pain running down my arm. Raw and shocky.
‘Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.’