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Centers for Breast Health

Stereotactic Guided Core Breast Biopsy


Your mammogram found an area for which we are suggesting further evaluation with a stereotactic core biopsy. Usually these are tissue changes or calcifications which show as tiny white spots on the mammogram. Many times mammograms can tell if an area is harmless (benign) or cancerous (malignant), but sometimes it is not possible to tell from the imaging alone. Stereotactic directed biopsies are performed using computer based guidance biopsy system. This system allows the physician to locate and obtain a sample of breast tissue with accuracy comparable to an open surgical biopsy. Stereotactic guided breast biopsy is a highly accurate way to determine fully what is causing the change. It is meant to sample an area, but not necessarily to remove it fully. This type of biopsy is faster with less pain and less scarring than a surgical biopsy.

During your biopsy, you will be lying on the table with your breast placed through an opening in the table and gently compressed. Local anesthesia (“numbing medicine”) keeps discomfort to a minimum and usually there is no visible scarring after the biopsy. This numbing feels like a needle prick and possibly some stinging or burning, but usually goes away in less than a minute. You may still feel pressure, but if you feel pain, more local anesthesia can usually be given. Most women have minimal if any discomfort during and after the procedure. A sampling probe is placed through a small nick in the skin, and a tissue sample is obtained. If we are sampling calcifications, we look at the tissue samples with x-rays to ensure the area is adequately sampled. To be able to follow the biopsy area, a tiny metal clip is often left at the biopsy site. This cannot be felt and the clip is harmless, but easily seen on mammograms for later follow up.

Unless your physician instructs otherwise avoid taking aspirin, aspirin-containing products, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin, Advil, or Aleve for 3-5 days prior to your procedure. All of these medications may increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure, so we advise you to avoid them. If  you need to take something for minor pain, such as a headache, Tylenol would be acceptable. Notify your surgeon if you are taking any blood thinning medications such as coumadin or aspirin.

On the day of your biopsy, please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time unless instructed differently. This will allow registration and preparation time. The procedure itself will usually take less than an hour. You may eat, drink, and take your usual medications unless directed otherwise. Please dress comfortably, preferably with a loose fitting front button-opening shirt or blouse. Also, please wear a supportive bra to hold the ice pack in place after the procedure. It is a good idea to avoid exercise or strenuous activity for 24 hours following your procedure. If you are given an oral medication for relaxation, you will need to have someone drive you home. Otherwise unless instructed by your physician, you may drive yourself home. We recommend you leave valuables, earrings, and necklaces at home. We will provide you with further instructions for care at home.

The tissue samples obtained are sent to a pathologist and carefully studied. Biopsy results are usually available within 72 hours. Your surgeon will discuss how your results will be given.

The staff of Saint Thomas Health Center for Breast Health is ready to assist you. Please call if you have any questions or concerns.