The Breast Biopsy
The entire process was described to me step by step which really helped me know what to expect. I will try to recount what the beautiful Denise shared with me. She was amazing and put me at ease through the entire process.
I arrived at Providence Milwaukie Hospital and checked in. I sat down with TJ, my husband, for just a few moments and then Denise came out with a smile on her face and called for me to follow her. She introduced herself and started with the instructions. It is so refreshing NOT to have to think or make decisions when you are in stressful, overwhelming situation. She talked me through everything. She guided me to a little room where she asked me to leave my purse and coat. Then we went into another room where she sat me down and told me about the entire procedure. Step by step. Here is what I remember…
“You will go back into the little room where you left your purse and coat and you will remove your shirt and bra and put on the gown so that it opens in the front. Lock everything in the closet and take the key and put it around your wrist. Then come out and meet me. We will come back into this room and take some X-rays with the mammogram machine to compare them to the images that we already have. We will locate the calcifications and make sure that we are looking at the correct place on your right breast. Once we identify that we are in the right place we will have the Dr. come in and ask you some of the same questions that I am asking and he will have you to sign a consent form.
Next we will go to the room where the procedure will take place. We will help you onto the table face down with your right breast in the hole. We will try to make you as comfortable as possible. Then I will cover you up with a blanket to keep you warm. Once we have you situated we will raise the table and take some more X-rays with a different Mammogram Machine. We will take a few pictures and triangulate the spot of calcifications. We will use a sharpie marker to create a mark on your breast.
You will be awake during this process and the local anesthetic will have a bit of a sting. We will stick in the needle after rubbing some numbing agent on the spot. I will rub your back to help with this pain as it is going in. Some say it feels like a sharp pain. (I know she used technical words to describe all of this but I am just going by what I remember and hopefully it is helpful).
Once we have you numb, we will take the tool that will remove the specimen and we will insert it into your breast and withdraw the calcifications. We aren’t trying to extract all of the calcifications but rather to gather a good sample in order for the lab to read the specimen. There will be a “Pop” sound and we will warn you when that is coming so it doesn’t startle you. That means that we have the specimen. We will then put it on the petri dish and take a few photos to make sure we have an adequate specimen. During that time, we will have you remain where you are in case we need to go back in to take out more.
If we are all set with a good specimen, then we will insert your internal jewelry (a piece of titanium) that will indicate where we removed the calcifications. This will help to identify the spot should a surgeon need to do a follow up. We will then get you cleaned up, put pressure on it with my hand, and dress it with a bandage.
We will help you up when you are ready to sit up and come down off of the table. We will go back in and take some more X-rays with the mammogram machine, not putting too much pressure. Then we will have you get dressed and you can go home.
You can take Tylenol for pain. Keep the bandages on for the next 3-4 days. Don’t fully submerge in water for the next week but feel free to shower. If you see any signs of infection contact us. You may also have a hematoma which is a collection of blood that forms a lump. Make sure to contact us if that happens as well.
When you hear from us these are the results you can expect
- The calcifications are cancerous
- The calcifications are NOT cancerous
- You have something called Atypical Lobular Hyperplasia
If the calcifications are not cancerous and you don’t have ALH we will continue on as normal with your check-ups. If they are cancerous, we will move forward with a surgeon consult. If there are signs of ALH you will also need to schedule an appointment with a Breast Surgeon so that they can remove a larger sample. Do you have any questions?”
Hopefully I was close enough on the description from Denise. Here is my account of what happened which is pretty much spot on to her description.
Mammogram X-rays like normal. I saw the X-rays. They double checked and asked me if it was the right boob that they would be doing the biopsy on. I said yes. The Anesthesiologist came in and asked me the same question and I signed the consent. We went to the room and there was a table with a hole in the center where my boob would fit. I climbed up, opened my gown, and placed my boob in the hole. She moved me around a bit and then lifted the table. I felt like a car getting my tires changed.
She took the X-rays again, marked the spot with the sharpie, and turned on the vacuum sounding thing, which is the tool that extracts the specimen. I was as comfortable as I could be. She kept on talking me through things in her soothing tone. She asked me if I was allergic to Iodine because she used that to clean the spot. Then she numbed the spot with a topical anesthetic. She then held my hand and rubbed my back while the doctor inserted the needle of pain. Not that big of a deal but it made my toes wiggle and I did squeeze her hand pretty hard. It was over quickly and I was numb.
They double checked their mark, took the suction tool and removed the specimen. They placed it in a petri dish and took some photos of it in a different room. Only minutes later, they determined that it was a good specimen and they could finish up. They inserted the internal jewelry, put pressure on my breast, had me roll over and she cleaned me up and placed a bandage over the incision.
I sat up, stepped down the few steps of the ladder and followed Denise to the Mammogram machine again. I forgot to mention that a 3rd person came in while this was happening and she was the one to take all the specimen and label it. She also provided a helping hand to Denise as she was bandaging me up. They said in 4 or so hours the numbing would be gone and I might feel some discomfort. I took a Tylenol just before that time was up. I took two more before bed and 1 more in the morning. I didn’t need to take any after that. Just the regular Tylenol you can buy from the store. Not a prescription.
She took the remaining X-rays and didn’t squeeze too hard. It was numb anyway so I didn’t feel much. Then I went to my closet and got dressed. Make sure to wear a two part outfit. Not a dress. You leave your pants and shoes on. Make sure to bring a comfortable bra that will hold the girls in place. They will give you an ice pack and some gauze. You can rotate the ice pack. 20 minutes on and 20 min in the freezer.
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO ANYTHING FROM THIS POINT ON FOR THE NEXT DAY OR SO.
I am telling you this. Of course you can, they say don’t lift anything heavy but if you have gone to the trouble of reading this entire Blog post then follow this advice. Find someone who will take care of you. If you don’t have any family members ask a girlfriend for a favor that you will gladly repay when it is her turn for a Dr. Visit. You need to just sit and do nothing but read a good book, watch a fun program, sleep, or write some letters but get yourself in bed and let others wait on you. That is an order. At least for the next 24 hours. I say this because I love you and I want you to love yourself. <3
Well, then you just wait for the results, which I posted in my first blog here.
If I have left out any part or something important please comment below so I can make an edit to the post. I wasn’t thinking I would need to remember what happened because I was sure it would be nothing. Well…. I guess there is a different plan in store for me.