Patients are sometimes unsure what the names of different breast surgeries mean. A biopsy is a removal of a small piece of breast tissue. This tissue is sent to the pathologist for microscopic examination to be sure it is benign. A segmental mastectomy is a removal of a portion, or segment, of the breast. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with breast biopsy. An axillary node dissection is the removal of lymph nodes from the arm pit, called the axilla in medical language. As breast cancer often spreads first to the axillary lymph nodes, these are often removed at the time of the removal of breast cancer by segmental mastectomy. The combined procedure is called segmental mastectomy and axillary node dissection. Your surgeon is your best source of information about the details of your breast surgery.
With the exception of segmental mastectomy these procedures are performed with general anesthesia. Segmental mastectomy too, is often performed with general anesthesia, but sometimes with local anesthesia and sedation.