If a breast abnormality is found on your mammogram and the surgeon cannot feel it during a breast examination, then you might need a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy. Our surgeons perform this procedure at The Reading Hospital and at Spring Ridge Surgery Center.


What is a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?

A special table and a mammography machine use x-rays to help guide the biopsy equipment to the site of the abnormality. Tissue sample(s) are removed for examination in the laboratory.


The Benefits of a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

It’s less invasive than a surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring and can be an excellent way to evaluate calcium deposits or tiny masses that are not visible on ultrasound. Breast biopsies are usually done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia and completed within an hour. You are able to drive yourself to the appointment.


Before your Stereotactic Biopsy:

  • Tell your doctor about any allergies you have, especially any history of allergic reactions to local anesthesia (like novocaine). Also be sure to mention any medications you may be taking, including blood thinners, over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin or supplements.
  • During the test, you could be lying on your stomach for up to an hour. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned that will be a problem for you.
  • You should bathe before the procedure and avoid using perfume, deodorant, antiperspirant, moisturizer, or powder and remove all jewelry and any body piercings before the biopsy.
  • You might be given a cold pack after the procedure to help with pain and inflammation. Wear a snug, comfortable bra to help keep the cold pack in place.


What to expect step by step:

  • You will lie face down on a moveable, padded table and the affected breast will be positioned into an opening in the table. You will be awake throughout the procedure.
  • The table is raised and the procedure is then performed beneath it.
  • The breast is compressed and held in position throughout the procedure.
  • Preliminary mammogram images are taken.
  • You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the skin, you will feel a pin prick from the needle followed by a mild stinging sensation.
  • You will likely feel some pressure when the biopsy needle is inserted and during tissue sampling, which is normal.
  • A small nick is made in your breast and a thin, needle is inserted. Mammogram images are taken again to confirm that the needle is within the lesion prior to sampling.
  • The needle is guided to the biopsy area where several tiny samples of breast tissue are taken. When the biopsy is done, a small bandage is placed on the skin.
  • After the sampling is complete, the needle will be removed from the breast.
  • A final set of images will be taken to assure sampling accuracy.
  • A small marker may be placed at the biopsy site so that it can be located in the future if necessary. A mammogram may be performed to make certain that the marker is in the proper position.
  • Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. Typically, stitches are not needed.


Will it hurt?

Many women report little pain and minimal scarring on the breast. Patients with dense breast tissue or abnormalities near the chest wall or behind the nipple may be more sensitive during the procedure.

Some women find that the major discomfort of the procedure is from lying on their stomach for the length of the procedure, which can be reduced by strategically placed cushions. Some women may also experience neck and/or back pain as the head is turned to the side when the breast is positioned for the biopsy.

You must remain very still while the imaging and the biopsy are being performed.

As tissue samples are taken, you may hear clicks or buzzing sounds from the sampling instrument. These are normal.

If you experience swelling and bruising following your biopsy, you may be instructed to take an over-the-counter pain reliever and to use a cold pack. Temporary bruising is normal.

You should contact your physician if you experience excessive swelling, bleeding, drainage, redness or heat in the breast.

If a marker is left inside the breast to mark the location of the biopsied lesion, it will not cause pain, disfigurement or harm. Biopsy markers are MRI compatible and will not cause metal detectors to alarm.