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Understanding Breast Cyst Aspiration

Breast cyst drainage (aspiration) is a procedure used to remove fluid from a breast cyst. A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms in the breast tissue. You can have one or more cysts in one or both breasts.

Cross section of breast with cyst and chest wall.

Why breast cyst aspiration is done

Breast cyst aspiration may be done if you have a breast cyst that is large, persists, appears abnormal, or causes symptoms. This can include pain or soreness in the breast. The procedure may also be done if you have a breast cyst that keeps going away and coming back.

How breast cyst aspiration is done

Breast cyst drainage is a quick procedure. It may be done in a healthcare provider’s office, hospital, or radiology center. During the procedure:

  • The skin over the breast is cleaned.

  • The healthcare provider injects a medicine (local anesthetic) into the area. This helps prevent pain during the procedure.

  • When the area is numb, the healthcare provider puts a needle into the cyst. Then, they drain the fluid from the cyst into the attached syringe. In some cases, they may use imaging methods such as ultrasound. These can help locate and guide the needle into the cyst before it is drained.

  • After the needle and syringe are removed, medical staff will put direct pressure on the injection site to help prevent bleeding. A bandage may then be placed over the site.

  • If needed, a sample of fluid from the cyst (cytology, a type of limited biopsy) is sent to a lab and studied under a microscope. This helps check for cancer and other problems that can happen in the breast.

Risks of breast cyst aspiration

  • Pain

  • Infection

  • Too much bruising

  • Bleeding or a collection of blood under the skin (hematoma)

  • Collapsed lung (very rare)

  • Return of the breast cyst

  • Need for more procedures, in particular breast surgery to remove the cyst if it cannot be resolved with aspiration

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Campbell MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2022
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