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ETMC Cancer Institute

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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

A stereotactic breast biopsy is a procedure in which several samples of tissue are obtained from the breast. This permits a tissue diagnosis to distinguish between benign breast abnormalities and those that are cancerous.

The procedure takes place in a specially equipped room at ETMC's Breast Care Center. The room contains digital breast imaging equipment and an examination table that allows for precise positioning. This is a preferred method of tissue sampling because it permits diagnosis without the trauma or scarring of an open biopsy. The procedure is performed conveniently at the center. The outpatient procedure takes approximately 60 minutes, and normal activities can be resumed upon completion of the biopsy.


The procedure is scheduled at a convenient time by the registered nurse from ETMC's Breast Care Center. A short phone assessment is required to gain essential health information prior to the day of the biopsy. Procedure instructions, admitting information and directions are also reviewed. A family member or friend is encouraged to accompany the woman undergoing the procedure. Written patient instructions and directions to ETMC's Breast Care Center are sent to provide an information reference.

The physician discusses the procedure and reviews the mammography films prior to beginning the biopsy. A local anesthetic is administered. A small skin nick is made into the area to be biopsied. Several tissue samples are obtained and sent to Pathology. Every effort to assure patient comfort is made during the procedure. Family members are notified as the procedure progresses.

Post procedure

A dressing is applied to the biopsy site after completion of the procedure. Post-procedure care is explained and at-home instructions are reviewed. Phone numbers are included in the instructions in case additional assistance is needed. A phone call is made the following day to assure the biopsy site is healing and answer additional questions. The pathology report is obtained in 48 hours. ETMC's Breast Care Center makes every effort to expedite the results to the physician and the patient.

If the pathology is benign, it is recommended that a follow-up mammogram is completed in months. If the biopsy is diagnosed as breast cancer, the woman and her physician will discuss treatment options. Early detection of breast problems is the first step in protecting a woman's health.

Mammography offers the best detection of early breast cancer. When a non-palpable abnormality is noted on a mammogram, it is important to determine if this abnormality is a benign lesion or a breast cancer. A convenient, cost-effective and efficient method to obtain this information is a stereotactic breast biopsy. The specially trained physicians of ETMC's Breast Care Center will evaluate if this is the procedure of choice. Every woman's case is unique, and quality, individualized care is the goal of ETMC's Breast Care Center.