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Stereotactic breast biopsy

Grant Regional Health Center is proud to offer the latest innovation and technology for breast care services to our region. As part of our commitment to enhancing care in the region, Grant Regional is taking a first step to providing a larger, comprehensive program for the diagnosis and care of breast health. Grant Regional has begun offering stereotactic breast biopsies, the most accurate, efficient and minimally invasive biopsy technique today. The advanced imaging and diagnostic technology enables our staff to find cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage.

Mammotome® Stereotactic Biopsy can be performed in less than an hour and can be done with one small incision, without stitches and with minimal, if any, scarring to the breast tissue. Unlike other biopsy methods, the Mammotome® system is capable of sampling a variety of breast abnormalities with just one small incision. The procedure has the ability to accurately sample tiny abnormalities in the breast called microcalcifications, making early diagnosis of breast cancer easier.

With state of art equipment to perform stereotactic breast biopsies, it will allow us to streamline services so waiting times can be diminished and patients can receive the information they need to make informed decisions about their care much quicker than ever before. This outpatient procedure has minimal discomfort compared to other biopsies and allows patients to immediately resume normal activities.

There are many benefits to having this technology in Lancaster including:

  • It means quicker answers, less travel, and fewer re-reads.
  • Cancer can be caught earlier and patients often require less treatment; and therefore, experience fewer side-effects.
  • Allows physicians to more precisely target lesions or calcifications found during 3D mammography exams, as well as other screening procedures.

Grant Regional is fortunate to have the expertise of General Surgeon, Dr. Darren Perttu, who has specialized skill and expertise in breast cancer surgeries. In addition to his experience in laparoscopic surgery and varicose vein treatment, he also has advanced training to perform many breast procedures including mastectomies, lumpectomies, and stereotactic breast biopsies.

Commonly asked questions

What is a stereotactic breast biopsy?

Stereotactic breast biopsy is used when there has been an abnormality found within your breast tissue during your mammogram. This type of biopsy is commonly used to target something called micro-calcifications (tiny calcium deposits not seen on ultrasound). This abnormality generally cannot be palpated or felt during a self-examination or clinical examination by your primary care provider. That's why it is so important to continue having your yearly screening mammograms.

It is an outpatient exam where only numbing medication is given. You are seated for the exam, and it is performed with the help of advanced computer technology, the mammography machine and biopsy equipment. Your breast will be positioned and compressed to an amount that you will be able to tolerate for some time. The breast is cleaned, local anesthesia is given, a small skin incision is made and the needle from which the biopsy is taken is placed within the breast tissue. During this you may hear a popping sound. This is simply the machine placing the needle directly into the area of the breast in question. The doctor will then take several sample of breast tissue and check the samples within the room to be sure we have the exact abnormality. Once this has been confirmed, a small marker will be placed within your breast tissue. This marks the area in question to help confirm for future mammograms or surgeries if needed. You will then be taken out of compression, cleaned up, have steri-strips placed over the incision, and then you will have a bandage placed over the area. This requires little to no recovery time, and there is very little scarring to the breast.

Do I need a driver the day of my biopsy?

You will not be given any medication during your exam other than a local anesthetic. There is no need to have a driver the day of your exam, unless your provider has given you any other medication that may impair your ability to drive to take the day of your exam. However, it is suggested you bring someone for support. Please note that they will not be able to come back with you during the exam and will be asked to wait in the waiting room.

How long does this exam take?

The entire exam from start to finish can take roughly one hour to 1.5 hours for one area of concern. If there are multiple areas that need to be sampled, please allow for more time.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

We generally ask to stop the use of any blood thinners for one week prior to the biopsy. Your doctor will instruct you further as there are some medications that cannot be stopped. Even though stereotactic breast biopsies are minimally invasive, there is still a small risk of bleeding, so please inform your doctor and any staff if you are taking any blood thinners or have any bleeding disorders.

Wear clean, comfortable, two-piece clothing, as you will be asked to change out of your top. Wear a freshly washed supportive bra such as a sports bra; this will be more comfortable for you after the procedure. Avoid wearing lotions, powders or deodorants before your procedure. You may eat a light meal before your exam and are encouraged to stay hydrated.

Does a stereotactic breast biopsy hurt?

Each patient is different; however, there will be some discomfort. You may feel a pinch, sting or burn while the local anesthetic is being administered into your breast. This is done to numb the area before the biopsy is started. It helps the rest of the exam be as pain-free as possible. Many people describe the rest of the exam as pressure or pulling without pain. If you do experience more pain, please let the staff preforming the procedure know so they can give you more numbing medicine.

Are there any risks associated with stereotactic breast biopsy?

There are few risks for this procedure, but as with anything, there are some complications that can occur. The main risks would include bleeding to the area and infection. Please talk to your ordering provider and performing staff if you are on any blood thinners. Your skin will be thoroughly cleaned with sterile soap before the procedure is started. We also suggest that you wear freshly washed clothing and bra to your exam so that it lowers your chance of bacteria getting in the incision.

Most bleeding happens during and right after the biopsy. Staff will put pressure on the area to help stop the bleeding, and then bandage the area. Sometimes bleeding can start again after you leave. You will be given after-care instructions telling you what to do. Sometimes bleeding can also occur within the breast tissue. This causes a bruised area that sometimes has a sore lump associated with it. This will also heal in time just as any other normal bruise.

If at any time you experience a fever, excessive bleeding or redness or have any other concern about your procedure, please call the ordering provider or, in extreme cases, contact the nearest emergency department.

How and when will I get my results?

Generally your ordering provider will call you with the results once they have received them. Sometimes your provider or surgeon may have set up a follow-up appointment. In that case, they may wait until they meet with you in person. Please allow up to one week for the pathology team to thoroughly review and study the tissue sample before a final result will be ready.

How much breast tissue will be removed?

One of the benefits to having a stereotactic breast biopsy versus other methods is that very little breast tissue is taken from the area of concern. While other methods may take a quarter-size or larger sampling, this method takes only small ½-1 inch yarn-like thickness samples.

How will I feel after my biopsy?

You may have tenderness of your breast after the biopsy, but many patients are able to resume to their normal activities the same day. We do ask that you take it easy the first day or so, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous activity. This helps prevent bleeding, bruising and infection. We ask that you take time to put a cold compress on the biopsy site as well to also help with this. Post-biopsy instructions will be given to you before you leave. Take time to relax—you deserve it!

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