The Core Needle Biopsy

My MRI was in mid-July. I received my results at the beginning of September and just as my doctor had forewarned me there was an area of concern. A biopsy was recommended. My biopsy was scheduled for the end of September the Wednesday after I returned from the annual Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) convention – MOMcon. I mention this because the closing talk at MOMcon focused on what happens when women come together, supporting one another. The president of MOPS used examples from her own life to illustrate this point. That women banded together become a fierce and powerful force to be reckoned with.

My core needle biopsy was an MRI guided biopsy with contrast. It was like my first MRI except I received the contrast immediately. Also, between the two rounds of scans I was removed from the machine, so a doctor could numb my breast at varying depths, make an incision and insert a core needle into the approximate location of the area in question based upon the images. I was then inserted back into the MRI with the needle in my breast to determine if it was in the correct location. It was not. I was pulled out to repeat the process. One more trip into the MRI machine was required to determine the location of the needle was good.

The doctor then proceeded to suction tissue samples through the core needle. Once all the samples were extracted a locator was inserted into the core needle and positioned in the location of the biopsy. It would act as a marker for future imaging. Or, in the event it was cancer, it would make it easily identifiable to the surgeon.

There were two technicians and one doctor present during the procedure. One technician assisted the doctor and the other technician spent the entire time with her hands resting upon my back. Every time the doctor informed me something would sting, pinch, hurt, or she was going to start removing tissue samples, the technician attending me would rub my back and say affirmations about how well I was doing. Her affirming presence made me cry. She was living proof of how fierce and powerful women can be when they support one another.

When the procedure was done the two technicians helped me sit up while one of them applied pressure to the incision. When they noticed I had been crying, they both chimed in with affirmations. It was a really beautiful moment. These two women I had never met before that day, were so eager to affirm and encourage me. I told them why I was crying, and I think they were both surprised. They had both assumed I was crying from fear or pain, but it was neither.

As I sat there the nurse applying pressure checked to see if the bleeding was letting up. As she checked she said:

 Uh-oh. What is that? I better go get the doctor.

She popped out the door and called the doctor back in. The doctor came back in to see what concerned the technician. Something was protruding from my incision. The doctor pulled it out and began to dissect it. It was the locator. I had bled it out. She told me she didn’t recommend trying to insert another locator. She then said something along the lines of:

Hopefully this is nothing and it will be not big deal. Worst case scenario, if it is something, you will have to have another MRI with contrast and a wire location before a surgeon could remove the tissue.

I was told it should take 3-5 business days to receive my results. If you read my post The Diagnosis, then you know it took a month to receive my results and it was breast cancer.

Up until now, most of the photos related to my breast cancer journey have been stock images from due to the simple fact I wasn’t taking photos. Beginning with my core needle biopsy I began photo documentation of my journey.  I promise I will share some of these photos in future posts, but nothing graphic.  My core needle biopsy photos are graphic.  They simply document the aftermath of the procedure at the site of the incision.  Going into the core needle biopsy, I had no idea it would be so traumatic to that area.  I bruise easily, but half my breast was bruised.  No doubt this was in part due to the repositioning of the needle itself.