Breast Care Center


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Stereotactic biopsy

What is a stereotactic breast biopsy?

When an abnormality is detected on a mammogram, the next step is to biopsy the area in question. A biopsy takes a sample of tissue and examines it under a microscope.

Stereotactic breast biopsy is rapidly replacing surgical biopsy for many reasons. With a stereotactic breast biopsy, you benefit from:

  • Less painful and invasive procedure
  • Less recovery time
  • No significant scarring
  • Less expensive procedure

We are here for you

We hope this information answers many of your questions. We want to make this stressful time as easy as possible for you.

If the diagnosis is cancer, we have a designated staff member—called the breast cancer nurse navigator—whose job is to guide you through the process and help you every step of the way. Our breast cancer nurse navigator will introduce herself to you after your biopsy. She will follow-up with you to offer guidance and support if the diagnosis is cancer.

How is a stereotactic breast biopsy performed

For the procedure, you will lay down on your abdomen on a specially-designed exami­nation table. The breast is positioned through an opening in the table. The table is raised allowing the physician to work from below.

Next, the breast is compressed with a compres­sion paddle just as is for a mammogram. An x-ray is taken to ensure that the area of the breast containing the abnormality is correctly centered in the paddle window.

After confirming the position, two stereo x-rays are taken. These images are called ste­reo because they are images of the same area taken from different angles. From these stereo images, with the assistance of a computer, exact positioning of the biopsy needle is determined.

With this information, the device holding the biopsy needle is positioned for the correct angle of entry. Next, the area to be biopsied is numbed with a local anesthetic. After the anesthetic has taken effect, the biopsy needle is inserted into the breast. An additional set of stereo x-rays are then taken to ensure proper needle placement. Once placement is confirmed, the tissue samples are obtained. After tissue sampling is completed, a tiny clip may be placed in the breast near the biopsy site.

To prevent bleeding, pressure is applied to the biopsy site. Final mam­mogram films are taken of the biopsied breast. A dressing, which will be worn home, is applied and post-procedure care instructions are given to you.

Most women feel fine after the procedure and return to their normal routine right away. However, it is recommended that strenuous activity be avoided for 24 hours. Within a few days, the physician will contact the patient to discuss the results with you.