Stereotactic-Guided Breast Biopsy

Frequently asked questions

What is a stereotactic-guided breast biopsy?

Stereotactic-guided breast biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a three-dimensional computerized image to view in detail abnormal areas in the breast. The breast tissue samples, withdrawn using a vacuum-assisted device, are examined by a Pathologist to determine whether the breast tissue is benign or not.

What are the benefits of stereotactic-guided breast biopsy?
•    Especially useful when an abnormality can be seen on a mammogram but cannot be felt
•    Simple procedure, performed under local anesthesia
•    Generally takes about one hour
•    Typically not painful
•    Most activities can usually be resumed the next day

What are the risks of stereotactic breast biopsy?
•    Possible discomfort at the biopsy site after the procedure, usually well controlled by non-prescription pain medication.
•    Infection can occur whenever the skin is penetrated, but the chance of infection requiring antibiotic therapy is minimal.
•    Bleeding or bruising, typically controlled by applying pressure and local application of ice. 
•    Depending on biopsy results, about 15% of women will need breast surgery.

How should I prepare for the procedure?
•    Do not take aspirin or Motrin 1 week prior to the procedure.  Tylenol is permitted.
•    Our Nurse Navigator will speak with you regarding any medications you are currently taking such as Coumadin, Plavix or Heparin.
•    You are encouraged to have a relative or friend drive you to the procedure. However, you can drive home on your own.
•    Do not wear deodorant, lotion, powder or perfume under your arms or on your breasts the day of the procedure.
•    Arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
•    Be sure to wear or bring a bra on the day of the procedure.

What will the procedure be like?
•    A board certified radiologist or surgeon who specializes in breast procedures will perform the stereotactic-guided breast biopsy.
•    You will be awake during the procedure and should experience little or no discomfort.
•    You will lie on your stomach with your breast gently placed through a round opening on the table.
•    Your breast will be compressed, just as in a mammogram. Multiple images will be taken at different angles, enabling the computer to locate the abnormal area for biopsy.
•    After the area of concern is located, you will receive a local anesthetic.
•    A very small nick (usually less than ¼ of an inch) will be made in the skin where the biopsy needle is to be inserted.
•    Using computer images as a guide, the vacuum-assisted device needle will be gently inserted into the area of concern. It is common to take multiple tissue samples.
•    A tiny marker (clip) is placed at the site where the tissue is removed. If benign, the clip will remain.  Only 15% of women will require further surgery, this clip would be removed at that time.  This clip cannot be felt. 
•    Generally the entire procedure is completed in about an hour. Stitches are placed when needed. A small bandage will be applied.

What will happen following the procedure?
•    You may experience a small amount of bruising and mild discomfort. You will be given an ice pack to help minimize swelling and tenderness of the biopsy area. Tylenol is recommended to control any pain.  Most women feel fine after the procedure.
•    Exercise or strenuous activity should be avoided for 24 hours after the procedure. It is recommended to go home after the procedure and relax.
•    You can resume aspirin or Motrin 24 hours after the procedure.

How will I learn the results of my biopsy?
•    You will be notified of your results by the surgeon or radiologist. Results are usually available within 2 - 3 working days.
•    Advise your doctor of any prescription or non-prescription medications or herbal products you are taking.
•    Be sure to talk to your doctor before discontinuing any prescribed aspirin therapy or blood thinning medications.
•    Advise your doctor or the radiologist of any allergies or reactions to general or local anesthesia.
•    Inform the technologist if you are sensitive to latex or other substances.

This procedure is done at our Breast Health Center which is located at 41 Montvale Avenue, Stoneham. Please call the Center with any questions (781) 224-5806.


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