Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

What is a stereotactic breast biopsy?

Stereotactic breast biopsy is a breast biopsy method that uses a hollow needle and x-ray guidance to take a sample of a suspicious lesion. A special computerized mammography machine uses intersecting coordinates to pinpoint the area of tissue change. A biopsy needle is then passed through the skin into the lesion. A small tissue sample is obtained and sent to a pathologist (a physician specializing in the analysis of tissue samples under a microscope for diagnosis). When your biopsy findings are ready you may have an appointment with your clinician to discuss the results and decide on the next step. If cancer is found you may be referred to a surgeon or tumor specialist.

At EGRMC, we use a vacuum-assisted needle biopsy device (VAD) to perform stereotactic breast biopsy, which uses vacuum suction to obtain the tissue sample. An advantage of the VAD is that the needle is inserted only once into the breast without having to withdraw the needle after each sampling. Biopsies are obtained in an orderly manner by rotating the probe, assuring that the entire region of interest will be sampled.

Why would I have a stereotactic breast biopsy versus another breast biopsy method?

A stereotactic breast biopsy is most helpful when mammography shows a mass, a cluster of micro-calcifications (tiny calcium deposits that are closely grouped together), or an area of abnormal tissue change but no lump can be felt on a careful breast examination. In addition, stereotactic breast biopsy may be used when a new mass or area of calcium deposits is present at a previous surgery site. Your clinician and our radiologist will determine the best biopsy method for you.  Stereotactic breast biopsies are offered at EGRMC and Effingham Hospital.

What to Expect

After putting on a gown, the technologist will position you face down on a specially designed table with your breast placed through an opening in the tabletop. The tabletop will be raised and the physician and technologist will perform the procedure from beneath the table. Your breast will be slightly compressed and held in a fixed position to ensure the accuracy of the procedure. X-ray images will be taken, and special software will map the exact location where tissue samples will be obtained. The skin over the biopsy area will be cleansed and then numbed with a local anesthetic injection. A small incision will be made and the biopsy instrument will be inserted. You may feel some slight pressure during this time. As the samples are taken, you may hear a ‘click’ from the biopsy device. Several samples will be obtained to ensure the most accurate diagnosis possible.

When the procedure is completed, sterile gauze and an ice pack will be applied over the incision to minimize swelling. Before you leave, a simple pressure bandage and some sterile strips will be placed over the incision. Stitches are not required for this procedure. Once you receive instructions concerning the care of the biopsied area, you will be free to dress and go home. Although not required, it is recommended you have someone drive you to and from your appointment.

Patient Preparation

There are several things you can do to make your procedure easier, more efficient and more comfortable.

• Discuss any medication you are taking with your clinician. You may be asked to stop the use of blood-thinning medications, including aspirin, a number of days prior to your biopsy procedure.

• Wear a two-piece outfit that is comfortable and easy to remove.

• Do not use deodorant, powder, or perfume under the arm or breast area. They may interfere with the quality of the images taken during your procedure.

• Eat a light meal before your procedure.