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  • Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

    • What is a stereotactic breast biopsy?
      A stereotactic breast biopsy is a test that uses a special computer to guide a needle to an abnormality seen on mammography. A large percentage of these abnormalities are benign and present no health risks. This biopsy is a non-invasive, accurate way to obtain the tissue sample required for diagnosis. The procedure requires little recovery time and there is no significant scarring to the breast.
    • What should I expect?
      The stereotactic breast biopsy is performed by a board certified radiologist who specializes in breast imaging. The radiologist is assisted by a radiological technologist who also specializes in breast imaging. This team has experience in these biopsies. Before you arrive, the radiologist will have studied your mammogram to become familiar with the location of the abnormality.

      After checking in, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and escorted to the biopsy suite. Sometimes the radiologist will ask for additional images before the procedure for more precise evaluation of the abnormality.

      The technologist will ask you to lie face down on the examination table, making sure you are as comfortable as possible. Your breast will be positioned through a round opening in the table. The table will then be elevated so that the physician and technologist can work from below.
    • How is it performed?
      The first part of the procedure will seem much like your mammogram except that you will be lying down. Your breast will be compressed, usually somewhat less tightly than during a regular mammogram. An x-ray will be taken to confirm that the proper area of the breast is centered in the window in the compression paddle. When the position is ideal, two more x-rays will be obtained. With the help of a computer, the exact positioning of the biopsy needle is determined from these images. Using this information, the radiologist will then position the device holding the biopsy needle.

      Your breast will then be cleaned with antiseptic. Next, the radiologist will numb the part of the breast to be biopsied by injecting local anesthetic. This is done with a tiny needle, and you may feel a stinging at this point. After the local anesthetic has taken effect, the radiologist will make a tiny incision (usually less than of an inch) through which the biopsy needle will be placed. Another pair of images will be taken to confirm the needle position. Once placement is confirmed, the tissue samples (cores) are acquired. Often the tissue samples are x-rayed to ensure they contain a representative sample of the area in question.

      After the radiologist has retrieved all the desired samples, a tiny metal clip may be placed in your breast at the biopsy site. This will be used to localize the area if a further procedure is necessary.
    • How should I prepare?
      To reduce the risk of bleeding during the procedure, we recommend that patients not take any aspirin product for 3 days prior to the procedure and not take any ibuprofen product (such as Advil or Motrin) for 24 hours prior to the procedure. If you are on prescription blood thinning medication such as coumadin, please consult your physician prior to scheduling this exam.
    • What should I expect afterwards?
      After the procedure, pressure and ice will be applied to the biopsy site. The radiologist will then discuss what to expect after the examination and what to do when you get home. You will also receive written post procedure instructions.

      Most women feel fine after the procedure. Tylenol may be used for relief of any discomfort. However, we recommend exercise or strenuous activity be avoided for twenty-four hours after the procedure. If possible, it's a good idea to go home after the procedure and relax.
    • How do I get the results?
      The tissue samples will be sent to a pathologist after the biopsy. The pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope and send a report to your doctor within a few days. If you do not have a scheduled follow-up appointment to discuss the results, give your doctor a call to arrange this.

    For more information, or to make an appointmentplease call the Anne C. Pappas Center for Breast Imaging at 401-444-MAMM (6266), or e-mail