Understanding Patient Anxiety and Pain during Initial Image-guided Breast Biopsy

Santo Maimone, Andrey P. Morozov, Annamaria Wilhelm, Inna Robrahn, Tedra D. Whitcomb, Kathryn Y. Lin, Robert W. Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Image-guided breast biopsies are safe, efficient, and reliable. However, patients are often anxious about these procedures, particularly those who have never undergone a prior biopsy. Methods: This prospective IRB-approved study surveyed 163 patients undergoing their first breast biopsy. Participants provided informed consent and completed a short written survey prior to and immediately after their procedure. Level of anxiety as well as anticipated and actual levels of pain prior to and following the procedure were assessed using a 0-10-point Likert scale. Correlation, bivariate, and regression analyses were performed. Results: Regarding the biopsy experience, 133/163 (81.6%) of patients reported it as better than expected. Anxiety decreased significantly from a prebiopsy mean score of 5.52 to a postbiopsy mean score of 2.25 (P < 0.001). Average and greatest pain experienced during the procedure had mean scores of 2.03 and 2.77, respectively, both significantly lower compared to preprocedural expectation (mean 4.53) (P < 0.001). Lower pain scores were reported in US-guided procedures compared to stereotactic- and MRI-guided biopsies (P < 0.001). No significant differences in pain scores were seen in those undergoing single versus multiple biopsies, or when benign, elevated-risk, or malignant lesions were sampled. Positive correlations were seen with prebiopsy anxiety levels and procedural pain as well as with anticipated pain and actual procedural pain. Conclusion: Image-guided biopsies are often better tolerated by patients than anticipated. We stress the benefit of conveying this information to patients prior to biopsy, as decreased anxiety correlates with lower levels of pain experienced during the procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-589
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Breast Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • anxiety
  • breast biopsy
  • breast pain
  • image-guided
  • patient experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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