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Painful Stereotactic Core Biopsy
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Painful Stereotactic Core Biopsy

I recently had a stereotactic core biopsy on my left breast for microcalcifications at a well known and highly regarded breast center.  Although the radiologist gave me lots of lidocaine, the procedure was extremely painful.  Six samples were taken from me without difficulty.  However, the last three samples felt like I was being stabbed in my breast.  Each time, after I complained about the pain, the radiologist gave me more lidocaine, but it did no good.  Atypical intraductal hyperplasia was found and now I will have to have a surgical biopsy to obtain a larger tissue sample.  I am very worried that I will suffer the same type of pain with this procedure as lidocaine is usually used as a local in surgical biopsies too.  I am also concerned about how I was treated by the radiologist and want to know how I can take care of myself with future procedures.  The radiologist was in a hurry (he said he had to be at a meeting in 30 minutes) and it seemed to me that he did not take care of my pain adequately.  The procedure was stopped short of the 12 samples that he wanted to get from me only because the female technician stopped him.  She told me afterwards that she was going to beat up the doctor after I left, but she would not tell me why.  I requested and was given 5 mg of Valium to relax me before the procedure, but I wished I had asked for more.  I know that we all have different tolerances for pain, so I don't want readers to think that they too will have the same experience.  But for me, it was truly awful and I am now very apprehensive about future treatment
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Linnet, I am very sorry to hear you had such an unfortunate experience.  Although these types of procedures have some degree of discomfort to them, there is no need to be that uncomfortable.  This sounds like more of a problem of not giving adequate time to let the medications take effect, bedside manner and not taking time to listen to the patient.  When you see the surgeon who will be doing the excisional biopsy, discuss with them your prior experience.  They should be willing to work with you to take time needed, discuss what they will be doing and medications they will be able to use that will help during the procedure.  If you are uncomfortable with their explanations/plan, then you may want to seek another surgeon willing to work with you.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry to hear how much pain you were in during the biopsy procedure.  Although not in my breast, I recently had a cervical biopsy done without any pain medication.  My gyno said it shouldn't be too painful, but the procedure caused so much pain, I was screaming on the table.  He apologized, and said he must be using a dull instrument.  He then gave absolutely no explanation of what was going on and why I needed a biopsy other than the possibility of cancer.  He scared me so much, and then left for vacation without calling me after several requests to secretaries by me.  I am no longer going to him for anything, and am thinking of reporting his horribly unprofessional conduct.

Thinking of you and your future procedure.  Good luck with all, and don't let any doctor bully you around, EVER!

-SPerloff
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you both for your feedback and support.  I had my surgical biopsy about two weeks ago and I was put under heavy sedation so I ended up not feeling any pain or remembering anything.  The surgeon was very responsive to my need not to feel pain and had an anesthesiologist on standby to knock me out if needed.  The bad news is that non-invasive DCIS was discovered. But that's a topic for another posting.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a stereotactic core biopsy several days ago and also found the procedure painful.  It was also frightening, dehumanizing, and sort of brutal.  I had nightmares about it for two nights afterwards.  I have also had a surgical biopsy (in the doctor's office), and while that was an unpleasant procedure, too, it wasn't as bad as the stereotactic biopsy.  In both cases -- about 8 years apart -- the results were negative for cancer, thankfully.

However, I do want to let other women know that while this procedure seems often to be promoted as an improvement over the surgical technique, my experience was otherwise.  The procedure had been explained to me thoroughly but the pain and dehumanization of it was certainly underplayed.  By the time I had spent an hour and a half with my breast being roughly handled, then clamped tightly in machinery for a long time, I was hyperventilating and on the edge of a panic attack (which I have never had before in my life).

I know that biopsies are necessary and save lives, so I don't want to deter any woman from taking steps that are important in detecting possible breast cancer.  What I do want to do is encourage women who have to undergo this procedure to ask for some kind of sedation beforehand. I'm not sure that would have helped me, but it might have.  It has been several days since my biopsy, and I'm still not feeling back to normal.

I also suggest that women not plan on going back to work the day of the biopsy, regardless of what the medical personnel tell you.  You aren't likely to feel like doing that, especially with a large icepack on your breast that must remain there for four hours.  Take the day off.

On the positive side, it appears that there is very little scarring or bruising -- unlike the 3" scar I have on the other breast from the previous biopsy.
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A related discussion, 1 of 2 biopsies done was started.
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