Breast cyst aspiration is a procedure performed to determine whether a fluid-filled pouch in the breast, also known as a cyst, is cancerous. In many cases, the cyst dissolves upon aspiration. Breast cyst aspiration is a safe procedure with no associated risks. Radiation is not used to perform this procedure. While breast cysts may cause discomfort, they are usually not cancerous. Regardless, it is important that a doctor be contacted if a woman discovers an abnormality in her breast.
The Breast Cyst Aspiration Procedure
Before undergoing breast cyst aspiration, patients can continue their typical day-to-day activities, including eating, drinking, and taking medication.
Breast cyst aspiration is performed as an outpatient procedure; only local anesthetic is required. It usually takes about an hour to perform, and the patient remains awake the entire time.
The patient is asked to change into a dressing gown, and a local anesthetic is applied to the breast. There are a few different approaches to breast cyst aspiration, including:
Fine-needle breast cyst aspiration
This procedure is performed with a small needle, and is designed to drain smaller breast cysts. In addition to aspirating the cyst, fine-needle breast cyst aspiration takes a small tissue sample to be biopsied. Because of the smallness of the sample, test results can be inaccurate. As a result, fine-needle aspiration is not performed as frequently as it once was. However, when the results of other diagnostic tests are inconclusive, it may be used.
Ultrasound-guided breast cyst aspiration
This procedure is similar to a fine-needle breast cyst aspiration, except it is performed with the help of ultrasound. Ultrasound is used to detect the mass before the needle is inserted, and to verify that the needle has been correctly inserted into the cyst, ensuring drainage. Ultrasound-guided breast cyst aspiration offers more precise results than aspiration procedures that are performed without it.
Regardless of the approach used, there may be mild discomfort for the patient. At the end of the breast cyst aspiration procedure, bandages and an ice pack are applied to the site of the aspiration, and the patient may return home. There may be numbness as the local anesthetic wears off, but this usually goes away quickly. Regular activities can be resumed the very next day.
Results are often available immediately after the procedure. When the fluid drained from a cyst comes out clear, it means that the cyst is noncancerous. If the fluid appears bloody, a sample of it is sent to a lab for further testing. Those results are usually available in a few days. Regardless of the results, a typical patient returns to her doctor for a follow-up visit about a month after the breast cyst aspiration.