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Radiology. 1995 Dec;197(3):739-42.

Automated large-core needle biopsy of surgically removed breast lesions: comparison of samples obtained with 14-, 16-, and 18-gauge needles.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pa, USA.



To determine the needle size that would consistently enable the pathologist to correctly diagnose tissue core biopsy specimens.


Fifty-seven surgically removed mass lesions of the breast were sampled with a short-throw automated biopsy gun and an 18-gauge needle first, followed by a 16- and a 14-gauge needle. Samples were evaluated independently by three pathologists, and findings were compared with the final diagnosis made at surgical excision biopsy.


The sensitivity for the diagnosis of all 26 malignant lesions was 100%, 92%, and 65% for biopsy samples obtained with 14-, 16-, and 18-gauge needles, respectively. Specificity for malignancy was 100% for all three needle sizes. All of the benign diseases were correctly diagnosed in samples obtained with all three size needles except for two samples that did not survive processing.


Biopsy samples obtained with a 14-gauge needle provide the most accurate diagnosis, which correlates with the diagnosis made with the surgical excision biopsy technique.

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