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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Stereotactic breast biopsy is used to take tiny samples of your breast tissue that can be studied under a microscope. This procedure uses X-rays to find the tissue to be removed. It may prevent the need for an open (surgical) biopsy.

Woman lying face down on exam table with hospital gown open in front. One breast is through opening in table. Exam table is on top of X-ray machine. Healthcare provider is sitting at machine. Image-guided biopsies that use computer mapping are called stereotactic biopsies.

Before the procedure

  • Tell your health care provider what medicines you take. This includes aspirin and ibuprofen. Ask if and when you should stop taking them.

  • Wear a top that’s easy to take off and a comfortable bra.

  • Bathe before the procedure. Don't wear perfume, deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion, powder, or any other substance on your skin.

  • Try to empty your bladder before the procedure to help you be more comfortable on the table.

During the procedure

  • You undress from the waist up and put on a gown that opens in the front.

  • The position you will be in for the procedure may vary. It will be based on the safest and easiest method to reach the breast area. It will also depend on the type of machine used to do the biopsy. The most common position is face down.

  • Your breast is placed through an opening in the table. The skin on your breast is cleansed and numbed.

  • The breast is pressed between 2 flat plates and a low-dose X-ray is taken. The X-ray helps find the exact tissue to be sampled.

  • A needle is then guided to the biopsy area. It removes several tiny samples of breast tissue.

  • After the needle is removed, a small bandage is placed on the skin.

  • Sometimes a small marker is put into the biopsy site to help find the area for future exams. A mammogram is usually done to make sure the marker has been placed in the correct position.

  • You can get dressed and go home soon after the procedure is finished.

After the procedure

  • Don’t do any physical work or strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after the procedure. You can usually return to your normal routine after this brief period of rest.

  • Ask how long you should use an ice pack over the biopsy area, when your bandage can be taken off, and when you can take medicine, including aspirin, again.

  • You may have a bruise for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. This is normal. You may also have a tiny scar.

  • If you have fever, excessive bleeding, or other problems, call your health care provider.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 9/11/2013
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