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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy  

Mammography is used during a stereotactic breast biopsy to locate the precise location of a lump or abnormal tissue.   
A stereotactic breast biopsy is a diagnostic test that uses mammography—an imaging technology that provides detailed pictures of breast tissue. Mammography allows the clinician to pinpoint the exact location of a suspicious lump or abnormal tissue within the breast, which is then biopsied using a minimally invasive technique. The small amount of breast tissue obtained during the biopsy is then tested for cancer cells or indicators of other conditions.  

When is a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Recommended?   

Stereotactic biopsies are primarily performed to diagnose or rule out breast cancer. A physician may order a stereotactic breast biopsy if:  

  • A routine mammogram or breast ultrasound shows a suspicious mass or area of tissue  
  • A lump or another irregularity is discovered during a clinical breast exam   
  • An imaging test shows a distortion in breast tissue structure, or a new lump or calcium deposits are discovered at a previous surgery site  

What Happens During a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?   

A stereotactic biopsy is an outpatient procedure that usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour to complete. Here’s what it entails:   

  • The patient lies face-down on a special platform with an opening to place the breast through. 
  • The platform rises a few feet, which allows the clinician to easily access the breast.  
  • Just as in a mammogram, the breast is compressed between two plates that take X-ray images of tissue. This highlights the exact location of the abnormality that is to be biopsied.  
  • Local anesthesia is injected to numb a portion of the breast. Then, a small needle or vacuum-assisted device is inserted through a very tiny incision to collect tissue samples for testing.   
  • A small stainless steel clip may be inserted into the breast to mark the biopsy site for follow-up care.  
  • The incisions are cleaned and bandaged (stitches aren’t necessary) to prevent infection and the procedure is complete. 

What Should I Expect?   

Some women experience a small amount of discomfort during the mammography portion of a stereotactic breast biopsy, although pain is considered to be minimal. The most common side effects of this procedure are temporary breast swelling, tenderness and bruising. Placing an icepack on the breast and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help reduce any discomfort.  

At Tampa General Hospital, patients have access to a full complement of breast health services and diagnostic care, including stereotactic breast biopsies and imaging procedures.