Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

What Is Stereotactic Needle Core Breast Biopsy (Vacuum Assisted)?

In many cases it is not possible to tell from a mammogram alone whether a growth is benign or cancerous. To make this determination, it is necessary to obtain a tissue sample for microscopic examination. As an alternative to open surgical biopsy, which removes a larger specimen for microscopic analysis, a hollow needle may be passed through the skin into the suspicious lesion with the help of special breast X-rays. The sample of breast tissue obtained in this way can show whether the lesion is malignant or benign and the procedure is much less invasive than the surgical approach. A special computerized mammography machine uses intersecting coordinates to pinpoint the area of tissue change. This method is called stereotactic biopsy or X-ray-guided biopsy. A pathologist examines the removed specimen and makes a diagnosis.

When Is a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Performed?

This procedure may be performed when:

  • A mammogram shows a suspicious solid mass that cannot be felt on breast examination
  • A mammogram shows a suspicious cluster of small calcium deposits
  • The structure of the breast tissue is distorted
  • A new mass or area of calcium deposits is present at a previous surgery site
  • The patient or physician strongly prefers a non-surgical method of assessment

How Is Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Performed?

Stereotactic breast biopsies are performed either prone or seated. If prone, a specially designed table is used for stereotactic breast biopsy. You will lie face down with your breast projecting through a hole in the table. The biopsy is done below the table after raising it to gain access to your breast. If the biopsy is performed with you seated, you will sit in a chair during the procedure.

The skin is cleansed and a local anesthetic is injected. A small nick is made in the skin and the tip of the biopsy needle is advanced to the previously calculated site of the lesion. At this point stereo images are taken to confirm that the needle tip is actually within the lesion. Usually six to 12 samples are collected. Then a final set of images is obtained. If they show that the lesion has been mostly or completely removed, a small clip is left at the biopsy site so that it can be easily located if the lesion proves to be cancer. Once the biopsy is complete the skin opening is covered with a dressing; it need not be sutured.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.