Physical examination can always detect the lumps that develop in breasts. To confirm this detection, imaging technologies such as mammography and other imaging studies are used. However, with imaging, you cannot accurately diagnose whether the lump is benign or cancerous. This is where stereotactic biopsy comes into picture. It is a procedure by which some cells from the lump are removed and observed under a microscope for further diagnosis. This is performed surgically or by an image guided needle which is less invasive.
Stereotactic biopsy uses a special mammography equipment to guide the radiologist to the site of abnormal growth.
This kind of biopsy is used when the mammogram or ultrasound shows breast abnormality such as
- Suspicious mass in the breast
- Cluster of small calcium deposits
- When the breast tissue structure is distorted
- A particular area has some abnormal changes
- A new mass or area of calcium deposits is formed.
What equipment is used for this procedure?
A special mammography machine is used for this purpose. This is generally a rectangular box which includes the tubes that produce the X-rays. This is used exclusively for the examination of the breast and has special accessories that allows only the breast to be exposed to the X rays. It also consists of either of these two devices:
- A vacuum assisted device that uses pressure to pull the tissue into the needle.
- A core needle also called as the spring loaded needle that also has an inner needle connected to a trough.
What is the procedure?
Stereotactic mammography pin points the exact location of the abnormality by taking X rays from two different angles. By using these computer coordinates a needle is inserted through a small cut in the skin. The needle then brings back the tissue which serves as a sample from the actual lump.
Typically the breast is compressed and help in position. Then primary images are taken. Local anesthesia is used to numb the part of the breast where the cut would be made. After that’s done, a tiny cut is made to inject the needle that will sample the abnormal lump in the breast for further diagnosis. The needle is removed after sampling and final set of images are taken. Pressure is applied to stop any further bleeding from the site. The procedure generally does not take more than an hour to complete.
This kind of biopsy procedure is generally done under local anesthesia so you should be awake during most of it. In most cases women have reported no pain or scaring or very little scarring. The surgeon will recommend that you stay still during the procedure. If you experience any swelling or bruising after the procedure, make sure that you get in touch with your doctor immediately.
This is a diagnostic procedure and follow up examinations may be required. This is generally when the existing samples are diagnosed with some questionable results. The treatment will be decided by your doctor depending on the findings of this biopsy.