Stereotactic Biopsy of the Breast
A stereotactic breast biopsy uses a specialized mammography device that employs ionizing radiation. This type of biopsy assists the radiologist to find the site of abnormal breast tissue growth.
Most of the time a conventional mammogram is sufficient, but in certain situations a stereotactic breast biopsy may be necessary to find the exact spots for surgical removal.
What are these Special Situations?
- Small clusters of tiny calcium deposits
- a suspicious mass
- architectural distortions
- new growth at the area of a previous surgery
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When is Stereotactic Breast Biopsy necessary?
Stereotactic guidance is often used in core biopsy needle samples of suspicious breast tumors. In addition, this technique is sometimes in use with vacuum-assisted devices (VAD). VAD devices can collect multiple breast tissue samples during a single needle insertion).
A computer combines two images at a ‘known’ angle of difference
Essentially, a stereotactic breast biopsy means a stereo biopsy. So, as you would expect, on mammogram radiolgists take two pictures. The images are at approximately 15 degrees angle difference (or some other known exact angle). A computer is then able to calculate the x, y and z position of any unique spot that is visible on both views.
The computer moves a little needle guide to the exact place. So when you insert a needle along the path of the needle guide, it ends up with the needle-tip at the correct location. In the days before there were computers moving robotic needle guides, there was a way to perform a stereotactic breast biopsy with trigonometry and manual movement of needle guides.
A Stereotactic Breast Biopsy might avoid an unnecessary breast surgery
In some cases, either the patient or the doctor, may be so adamantly opposed to a surgical procedure, a stereotactic biopsy might be employed instead. Some of the benefits of using a stereotactic breast biopsy in the evaluation of breast tumors is that it may prevent a women with a benign tumor from ongoing, unnecessary surgical procedures.
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- Reynolds A. (2009) Radiol Technol.Stereotactic breast biopsy: a review. 80(5):447M-64M. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19457848
- Rovera F, Dionigi G, Marelli M, Ferrari A, Limonta G, Corben AD. (et al). (2008) Breast cancer diagnosis: the role of stereotactic vacuum-assisted aspiration biopsy. Int J Surg. 2008;6(Suppl 1):S104–S108. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121611
- Sim LS, Kei PL. (2008) Upright stereotactic vacuum-assisted needle biopsy of suspicious breast microcalcifications. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2008;52:358–364. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18811759