A stereotactic biopsy is a form of core needle biopsy. A core needle biopsy is a procedure used to determine whether a suspicious calcification or lump is cancer. Some lumps look much the same whether they are benign or cancerous, and the only way to find out is to remove a piece of the lump with a biopsy. The tissue removed is then sent to a pathologist who examines it under a microscope and determines whether or not it is cancerous.
Core needle biopsies are different from surgical biopsies, in that only small pieces of the lump are removed through a very small cut in the skin. Surgical biopsies usually remove the entire lump through a larger cut in the skin. Since most lumps are benign, doctors recommend core needle biopsies in most cases. Both types of biopsies, surgical and core needle, have the same accuracy rate. Core needle biopsies include stereotactic biopsies using x-ray, ultrasound biopsies and MRI guided biopsies.
A stereotactic biopsy is guided by digital x-ray. It is most helpful in sampling areas of calcifications that look suspicious in your mammogram. The first thing that will happen is the nurse and technologist will help you get onto the padded table as comfortably as possible. You will lie face down with your breast inserted through an opening in the table. Your breast will be held in compression during the procedure. It is very important that you take the time to get comfortable so that you can stay perfectly still, as any movement or talking can interfere with the biopsy.
During the biopsy, the breast radiologist will inject local anesthetic to numb the area. Through a small cut in the skin, a needle is inserted and pieces of tissue are removed. The incision is so small that stitches are not needed. The breast radiologist will x-ray the tissue removed to make sure that the calcifications have been removed, and will place a tiny clip marking the biopsy site. The clip will not be seen or felt by you or others and will not interfere with any of your daily activities. The procedure will generally last 30 minutes to one hour.
You will be instructed to keep the breast area dry for 24 hours after the biopsy. Also, strenuous activity like weight lifting or aerobic activity should be avoided during this time. Most women find that they can resume their normal activities the day after the biopsy procedure. It is important to carefully follow the post-procedure instructions so that any circumstances specific to you will be taken care of properly. It is normal to have bruising after a breast biopsy. In order to reduce the amount of bruising, the nurse will apply pressure to the biopsy site at the end of the procedure. You will be instructed to place ice on your breast at intervals during the remainder of the day. Though stereotactic biopsy is minimally invasive and is usually over quickly, there are some risks associated with it. As with any needle procedure, bleeding and infection at the biopsy site can occur, so be sure to follow all instructions carefully.
Usually the pathology results are ready within a few days. This report will go to your referring physician and your breast radiologist. Your referring physician or breast radiologist will call to inform you of the results, ask how you are healing and answer any questions or concerns you might have.
If it is determined that you need a stereotactic biopsy, your referring physician will be consulted, after which his/her office will send orders for the procedure to the Breast Center. Once these orders are received, a nurse will contact you to schedule your biopsy and have a pre-procedure phone consultation. The nurse will give you specific instructions about what to do before and after the procedure.
If you have questions or concerns about your procedure, please contact the Breast Center nurse at 281-274-8343, or to schedule an appointment call 281-242-PINK (7465).