Stereotactic breast biopsy uses mammography to help locate a breast lump or abnormality and remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. It’s less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring and can be an excellent way to evaluate calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible on ultrasound.

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. This can be performed surgically or, more commonly, by a radiologist using a less invasive procedure that involves a hollow needle and image-guidance. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion.

In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses x-rays to help guide the radiologist’s biopsy equipment to the site of the abnormal growth.

Click here for a six minute overview of stereotactic breast biopsy.

A stereotactic breast biopsy may be performed when a mammogram or an ultrasound shows a breast abnormality such as:

  • a suspicious mass
  • microcalcifications, a tiny cluster of small calcium deposits
  • a distortion in the structure of the breast tissue
  • an area of abnormal tissue change
  • a new mass or area of calcium deposits is present at a previous surgery site.

Stereotactic breast biopsy is a non-surgical method of assessing a breast abnormality. If the results show cancer cells, the surgeon can use this information for planning surgery.

Procedure

The DIS stereotactic breast biopsy system allows for women to either lie face down or be seated for the procedure. Determination will be made by the performing radiologist as to the position that will work best for obtaining tissue samples.

In most cases, you will lie face down on a movable exam table and the affected breast will be positioned into an opening in the table. The table is raised and the procedure is then performed beneath it. If upright, you may be seated in front of the stereotactic mammography unit.

The breast is compressed and held in position throughout the procedure. Preliminary stereotactic mammogram images are taken. A local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it.

A very small nick is made in the skin at the site where the biopsy needle is to be inserted. The radiologist then inserts the needle and advances it to the location of the abnormality using the mammogram and computer generated coordinates. Mammogram images are again obtained to confirm that the needle is within the lesion.

Tissue samples are then removed. After the sampling, the needle will be removed. A final set of images will be taken.

Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed.

This procedure is usually completed within one hour.