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Ultrasound-guided Fine Needle Biopsy

Medical editor Marit Muri Holmen MD
Oslo University Hospital


Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), also called fine needle biopsy, is performed on palpable lesions in the breast and in cases of inconclusive ultrasound findings. Under the guidance of palpation or ultrasound, the method is both simple and quick.

A positive cytology result confirming a breast cancer diagnosis can be sufficient for further treatment measures if there is agreement between cytology, radiology, and the clinical examination.

The method requires a close collaboration between cytologist, radiologist, and clinician. Therefore, the method is being frequently replaced, both in Norway and internationally, frequently by coarse needle core biopsy.


  • Diagnostics


  • To conclude if a lesion, palpable or non-palpable, is benign or malignant.


  • Ultrasound apparatus
  • Biopsy needle


Testing with the help of a fine needle is not very painful and does not require local anesthesia.


  • The actual lesion is localized by means of ultrasound.
  • One to two samples are usually taken.
  • The puncture area is compressed in case of bleeding.


  • The patient may go home after the procedure.
  • The result from the test(s) is usually available after 1-3 days.

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