Percutaneous biopsy of papillary lesions of the breast: Accuracy of pathologic diagnosis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Women's Imaging








OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of the pathologic diagnosis of papillary breast lesions when evaluated by percutaneous biopsy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 2307 consecutive breast lesions, diagnosed by percutaneous biopsy, were retrospectively reviewed. Of these, 45 lesions were papillary lesions; 15 of the 45 cases were lost to follow-up or had not had imaging follow-up and were excluded. The remaining 30 papillary lesions constituted the study population. Subsequent surgical excision or imaging follow-up (a minimum of 6 months) was performed and correlated with the initial diagnoses. RESULTS: Of the 30 lesions, 11 intraductal papillomas were diagnosed with stereotactic vacuum assisted biopsy (SVAB). Surgical excision was performed on four lesions (36.4%). Pathologic findings in all four lesions (100%) were benign. Of the 13 papillary lesions diagnosed with ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy, three (23.1%) demonstrated papillomatosis. Subsequent surgical excision was performed on 11 (84.6%) of the 13 papillary lesions, including two of the three papillomatosis. Pathology was benign in all. The two (18.2%) other lesions, initially diagnosed as papillomatosis and benign papilloma, were a fibroadenoma and organizing papillomatosis, respectively, at surgery. The six lesions that were sampled with fine needle aspiration (FNA) demonstrated intraductal papillary lesions, two (33.3%) of which had cytologic atypia. Surgical excision was performed on all six (100%) with benign breast tissue in four (66.7%) including one of the lesions demonstrating atypia. The two (33.3%) other lesions demonstrated high-grade invasive papillary carcinoma with in-situ components. CONCLUSION: Surgical excision is warranted when a percutaneous breast biopsy demonstrates a papillary lesion with atypia or when there is radiologic-pathologic discordance. Otherwise, these lesions can be followed conservatively. Furthermore, for improved diagnostic accuracy, indeterminate intraductal lesions should undergo biopsy with CNB or stereotactic vacuum assisted biopsy and not fine needle aspiration. The cytologic diagnosis of papillary lesions is considered only preliminary by fine needle aspiration, and should await surgical resection and histologic examination to further classify these lesions. Copyright © 2006 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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