Stereotactic breast biopsy is a way of obtaining a sample of tissue from a questionable area in the breast using a special type of needle instead of surgery. A computer precisely determines where the needle travels to obtain the best sample of tissue.

What are the advantages?

  • Usually pain free
  • Local anesthesia
  • No scarring. The breast appearance is not affected, and there is no scar tissue to distort future mammograms.
  • Few complications are reported. The most common is a post-biopsy hematoma (a black-and-blue area from a collection of blood under the skin).
  • The cost of a stereotactic procedure is typically lower than that of an open surgery biopsy.

Stereotactic breast biopsy would be considered only AFTER a mammogram shows a suspicious lesion (an area that appears different from surrounding breast tissue). The procedure is often ideal for the woman who has a breast lesion that requires surgical biopsy but is too small to be felt. It is especially useful when the doctor suspects that the lesion is harmless but needs to verify that fact. If the lump is large enough to be felt, it is usually biopsied with a small needle or completely removed. Your doctor will decide the best approach for you.

Before the Procedure

  • You may eat a light breakfast on the day of your procedure.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit.
  • Avoid using talcum powder or deoderant on the day of your biopsy.
  • Since you will be lying on your stomach during this procedure, you will be asked to empty your bladder prior to beginning the test.
  • Many patients prefer to bring someone along to drive them home.

The Procedure

While lying face down, your breast is suspended through an opening in the table. Wth your breast compressed, the physician will localize the lesion with computerized guidance. Several samples may be required depending on the type of lesion biopsied. The compression immobilizes the breast, and a local anesthetic is used at the biopsy site. Most patients are able to return home and/or work after 1-2 hours. Most women say they don't feel anything except pressure. Since the needle creates a very small puncture in the breast, no stitches are required afterward.

After the Procedure

After the exam, there will be some bleeding where the needle was placed. This will be bandaged to relieve swelling or bruising. If needed, you may take a non-aspirin pain reliever like Tylenol (2 tablets) every 4-6 hours to help alleviate any discomfort. You may notice some bruising, which should resolve in 5-7 days.