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J Am Coll Radiol. 2014 Jul;11(7):709-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2014.01.013.

Predictors of pain experienced by women during percutaneous imaging-guided breast biopsies.

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University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.
Riverside Radiology and Interventional Associates, Columbus, Ohio.
Seattle Radiologists, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Department of Radiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. Electronic address:



The purpose of this study was to evaluate pain experienced during imaging-guided core-needle breast biopsies and to identify factors that predict increased pain perception during procedures.


In this institutional review board-approved, HIPAA-compliant protocol, 136 women undergoing stereotactically or ultrasound-guided breast biopsy or cyst aspiration were recruited and provided written informed consent. Participants filled out questionnaires assessing anticipated biopsy pain, ongoing breast pain, pain experienced during biopsy, catastrophic thoughts about pain during biopsy, anxiety, perceived communication with the radiologist, chronic life stress, and demographic and medical information. Procedure type, experience level of the radiologist performing the biopsy, number of biopsies, breast density, histology, and tumor size were recorded for each patient. Data were analyzed using Spearman's ρ correlations and a probit regression model.


No pain (0 out of 10) was reported by 39.7% of women, mild pain (1-3 out of 10) by 48.5%, and moderate to severe pain (≥4 out of 10) by 11.8% (n = 16). Significant (P < .05) predictors of greater biopsy pain in the probit regression model included younger age, greater prebiopsy breast pain, higher anticipated biopsy pain, and undergoing a stereotactic procedure. Anticipated biopsy pain correlated most strongly with biopsy pain (β = .27, P = .004).


Most patients report minimal pain during imaging-guided biopsy procedures. Women experiencing greater pain levels tended to report higher anticipated pain before the procedure. Communication with patients before biopsy regarding minimal average pain reported during biopsy and encouragement to make use of coping strategies may reduce patient anxiety and anticipated pain.


Imaging-guided breast biopsy; anticipated pain; breast pain

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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