Stereotactic breast biopsy

Stereotactic breast biopsy uses computerized X-rays to precisely locate an area within the breast from which tissue samples need to be taken. This procedure is especially useful when a doctor can see calcifications or a mass in the breast on a mammogram but cannot locate it by touch.

Based on mammograms taken from two angles, computerized equipment maps the precise location of the mass or calcifications. A small incision is then made in the skin of the breast. The instrument is used to guide a needle to the exact site to collect tissue samples for biopsy. Samples of breast tissue are removed and then examined under a microscope for signs of cancer.

Stereotactic biopsy may not be recommended for all types of breast lumps.

Last Updated: April 29, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Brent Shoji, MD - General Surgery

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