Need to Know
Nice to Know
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is This Exam Done?
A stereotactic biopsy is performed to locate and remove tissue samples of a suspicious mass, micro-calcifications, which are tiny clusters of small calcium deposits in the breast tissue, a distortion in the breast structure or an area of abnormal change in the breast tissue.
What Will Happen During the Exam?
- You will lie on a specially designed padded table on your stomach with your breast suspended through an opening in the table
- The table will be raised and the Breast Interventional Radiologist and Technologist will work from below to perform the biopsy
- Your breast will be compressed and images taken to locate the area of concern.
- Your breast will be cleansed and the radiologist will inject some numbing medicine and make a small cut (nick) over the area to be biopsied so the needle can be inserted.
- The biopsy equipment can directly inject numbing medication to the biopsy site during the procedure. The local anesthetic can be adjusted by the radiologist to alleviate any discomfort during the procedure. Let the staff know if you are uncomfortable.
- The biopsy core needle will be inside your breast for only a few minutes to extract the tissue. Much of the time allotted for the biopsy is to explain the procedure and obtain consent, imaging and targeting of the area and the post biopsy care. Stereotactic biopsies will not leave a scar on your breast and because such a small amount of tissue is removed your breast will not appear any different than before the biopsy.
- Images will be obtained to confirm that the needle tip is within the lesion before sampling the tissue.
- Small samples (specimens) of breast tissue will be taken through the needle attached to a vacuum device. The device will make an audible sound.
- A very small surgical clip will be left in your breast post-procedure as a future identifier of the area. This cannot be felt, does not cause pain and will not interfere with MRI imaging or any surveillance devices (metal detector).
- A post procedure mammogram of the breast will be taken to confirm placement of the biopsy clip.
- Pressure will be applied to the biopsy site for a few minutes, a bandage is applied and cold/ice packs provided. No sutures (stitches) are needed
- Allow about one hour for your procedure – this includes the pre and post procedure care
- The tissue samples will be sent for pathology with the results typically obtained within 2-3 business days. A radiologist, nurse navigator or your breast surgeon will contact you with the results when they are available.
How Should I Prepare?
- There are no diet restrictions, you may eat and drink as usual
- You may perform normal daily activities prior to the procedure
- Take usual medications on exam day unless instructed not to
- You may be advised to stop taking aspirin, blood thinner, or certain herbal supplements a few days prior to the procedure to decrease risk of bleeding
- Do not wear any deodorant, lotion or powder underneath your arms or on your breast.
- Inform the staff if there is a chance of pregnancy or if you have any allergies, especially to anesthesia.
- You will be asked to remove everything from the waist up and will wear a gown that opens in the front
- For your comfort, you may want to remove earrings and/or necklaces
- Wear comfortable loose clothing and wear/bring a supportive bra (sports bra)
What Should I Bring?
- You will be provided with full post biopsy instructions before your leave the facility.
- Restrict activity for the first 24 hours – do not lift anything heavier than 8 lbs
- No exercising for 3 days
- No swimming for 3-5 days
- Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin-Aleve) for discomfort
- A sports bra may provide comfort for first 24 hours and hold the ice pack in place
- Apply Ice to the biopsy site
- Keep biopsy site dry for first 24 hours
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of Breast Biopsy (Stereotactic/Core):
- A stereotactic biopsy procedure is less invasive than a surgical biopsy, leaves little or no scarring and removes far less tissue than a surgical biopsy would
- The procedure costs less than a surgical biopsy and the results are just as accurate. Stereotactic biopsies can be performed in less than an hour as an outpatient procedure and very little recovery time is required
- Evaluates calcifications (calcium deposits) or tiny masses that are not visible with ultrasound
Risks you should be aware of:
- Complications from a stereotactic biopsy are rare but include:
- Bruising, swelling or a collection of blood at the biopsy site (hematoma)
- Infection – Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. Some lesions near the chest wall are difficult to target and may be better sampled with a surgical biopsy