Background: Minimal invasive breast biopsy is standard care for the diagnosis of suspicious breast lesions. There are different vacuum biopsy (VB) systems in use. The aim of the study was to determine the differences between the 8-gauge and the 11-gauge needle with respect to a) diagnostic reliability, b) complication rate and c) subjective perception of pain when used for vacuum-assisted breast biopsy.
Methods: Between 01/2000 and 09/2004, 923 patients at St. Josefs-Hospital Wiesbaden underwent VB using the Mammotome (Ethicon Endosurgery, Hamburg). Depending on preoperative detection, the procedure was performed under sonographic or mammographic guidance under local anaesthesia. All patients included in the study were followed up both clinically and using imaging techniques one week after the VB and a second time after a median of 41 months. Excisional biopsy on the ipsilateral breast was an exclusion criteria. Subjective pain scores were recorded on a scale of 0 - 10 (0 = no pain, 10 = unbearable pain). The mean age of the patients was 53 years (30 - 88).
Results: 123 patients were included in the study in total. 48 patients were biopsied with the 8-gauge needle and 75 with the 11-gauge needle. The use of the 8-gauge needle did not show any significant differences to the 11-gauge needle with regard to diagnostic reliability, complication rate and subjective perception of pain.
Conclusion: Our data show that there are no relevant differences between the 8-gauge and 11-gauge needle when used for VB. Under sonographic guidance, the use of the 8-gauge needle is recommended for firm breast tissue due to its sharp scalpel point and especially for complete removal of benign lesions. We did not find any advantages in the use of the larger 8-gauge needle compared to the 11-gauge needle in the mammography setting. The utilisation costs of the 8-gauge needle are somewhat higher.