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  • Patient Guide to Stereotactic Breast Biopsy: Planning for the Breast Biopsy

  • This type of biopsy is accurate and safe, requires only a short recovery, and leaves no significant scarring. We use a special computer to guide a needle to the abnormality and remove tissue samples for examination. Our radiologists perform the breast biopsy on an outpatient basis-you do not need general anesthesia and you are able to resume your normal activities the day after the biopsy.

    How to prepare

    We recommend that you do not take any aspirin product or ibuprofen product (such as Advil or Motrin) for three days before your procedure. This reduces the risk of bleeding. If you use a prescription blood-thinning medication such as Coumadin or an aspirin regimen, please talk with your doctor before scheduling your biopsy so that he or she can instruct you.

    Please dress in comfortable clothes; we suggest a loose two-piece outfit. Please arrange for someone to accompany you to your stereotactic breast biopsy and to drive you home.

    When You Arrive

    After you check in, we will give you a hospital gown and escort you to the biopsy suite when you've changed. A board-certified radiologist who specializes in breast imaging performs the biopsy. Two radiological technologists, who also specialize in breast imaging, assist the radiologist. The radiologist has already studied your mammogram before you arrive, so he or she is familiar with the abnormality and its location.

    The Procedure

    The first part of the biopsy procedure is similar to the mammogram procedure: we compress your breast and take an x-ray to confirm that the correct area of your breast is centered in the window of the compression paddle. When the position is perfect, we take two more x-rays; together, these images and the computer help us determine the precise positioning of the biopsy needle. Using this information, the radiologist positions the device that holds the needle. Next, we clean your breast with antiseptic and the radiologist uses a tiny needle to inject a local anesthetic. This numbs the area to be biopsied.

    When the area is numb, the radiologist makes a very small incision (usually less than a quarter-inch) for the biopsy needle. We take two additional x-rays to confirm the position and then we acquire the tissue samples we need, called cores. We often x-ray those samples during the procedure to be certain they contain a representative sample of the area of the abnormality. The entire procedure is completed in approximately 45 minutes.

    After the procedure we apply pressure and ice to the site of the biopsy incision and the radiologist discusses with you what you should do when you get home and what you can expect. We will also give you written instructions and remind you that you should not drive home.

    Most women feel fine after the breast biopsy. If you have any discomfort, you may take Tylenol. We recommend that you avoid exercise and strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after your procedure.

    Your Results

    We send your tissue samples to a pathologist to be examined under a microscope. The pathologist sends a report to your own doctor within a few days.

    We want you to know that the evaluation of your breast abnormality might not end with the breast biopsy and that clinical follow-up is essential to your continued good health. Depending on the results of your biopsy, we might suggest a six-month follow-up mammogram, another breast biopsy or a surgical excisional biopsy. If so, we send all the pathology and radiology reports to your doctor so that he or she can discuss them with you.

    Contacting Us
    To make an appointment or for more information, please call us at 401-845-1336 or 401-845-1983.