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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Almost two months ago, I was told by the radiology doctor, that I should have a stereotactic biopsy of my right breast. I first had to get some other heart tests taken care of, which I have now done. I am concerned about how long this procedure takes, and the fact that I cannot lie on my stomach. I have severe allergies, and also, I wondered how long this procedure takes. I have increasing microcalcifications in my right breast, am 58 years old, and have had a complete hysterectomy, 14 years ago, and have been on Premarin (estrogen) for 14 years. I live alone, lost my husband less than two years ago, and I have cats that need daily medication. Will this just be an in and out procedure, and does a radiology doctor do this biopsy? Thanks for any advice.
21 Responses
242527 tn?1292452740
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Dear elenamarie58:  A stereotactic biopsy uses mammogram (or ultrasound in some cases) to identify the area of concern.  A needle is then placed into that area to take a sample of the tissue, its position is confirmed by the mammogram.  Often several samples are taken.  These can be done either in a sitting mammogram machine or on a machine in which the patient lies on her stomach.  You will need to ask at your center what technique is used and options if you cannot lie on your stomach.  It is an outpatient procedure that may be done by several health care professionals, including the radiologist.  You will need to check to see who does these at your institution.  
Avatar universal
Hello,

I had this procedure done 3 months ago.  the whole thing takes only 45 minutes to an hour.  so yes, it is in and out.  i had a phone call the next day with the results of the biopsy.

i normally can't lie on my stomach either, but this thing you lie on was fairly comfortable and i didn't have a problem at all.

There will be the Doctor doing the procedure and one or two nurses in there with you.  When i had mine done, they made me very comfortable.

good luck
Avatar universal
I also had a stereotactic biopsy done by a radiologist. Altho mine only took about an hour I have heard of longer proceedures for others. Have you met with a doctor to have the proceedure explained in detail, or could you call the radiologist who will be performing it to ask questions? It is an in and out proceedure. You usually have to ice the area and you should plan to take it easy the rest of the day. I was very worried about laying on my stomach because I knew my back would hurt terribly. The nurse visited with me the whole time to take my mind off being uncomfortable. It really wasn't bad. If you really feel uncomfortable about the stereotactic even after having your questions answered by a doctor, another option might be a needle-directed biopsy. This is a more invasive proceedure because they first locate the calcifications and mark the area with a wire and then surgically remove the entire area of calcs.  Although some doctors prefer this proceedure only your doctor(s) can tell if it would be appropriate in your case.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your answers to my questions. I do not have a regular doctor yet, so I guess I should call and speak to the radiologist and ask her how to proceed. It has been two months almost since I had the last special mammogram of the right breast. Do you think that is too long a time to go, until I get scheduled for a biopsy? One radiologist was there the day I had the special mammogram done, and she thought everything looked about the same as six months before that. But, then another radiologist looked at the pictures and had the opposite opinion, and said the calcifications have slowly been increasing and she would rather that I had this biopsy done. So, it is one doctor saying one thing, and the second one saying to go have the biopsy to be on the safe side. I really don't want to have it done at all, but if it is better to have it done I guess I will. There is no breast cancer in my mother's side of the family, but cancer itself does run in my family, plus where I live has a high cancer rate. :(

What kind of doctor does the stereotactic biopsies anyway? Just a surgeon, or an oncology surgeon? Or a radiologist?

Thanks again!
Avatar universal
Radiologist's do stereotactic biopsies. I had a similar problem with radiologist's differing opinions. Two radiologists said my calcifications were increasing and were pleiomorphic but when I went for the biopsy radiologist #3 felt the calcifications were benign so I skipped the biopsy and waited 6  months for another mammo. The radiologists again disagreed on this later mammo. I talked to the surgeon who oversee's my ongoing breast problems. He agreed with no biopsy because the 3rd radiologist reads more mammograms and is more experienced with them. He felt the other 2 radiologists tend to recommend biopsy just to be on the safe side. More experienced radiologists can better tell which microcals are benign.

Did you go to a breast center? If not, I would recommend making an appointment at a breast center to get a 3rd opinion. If you can find a radiologist and breast surgeon to discuss this and answer your questions you'll feel better. Sometimes women can't get a stereotactic scheduled for 2 months after their mammo, so don't worry about the length of time that has lapsed. If you don't do the stereotactic, you still need some type of follow-up such as a 6 month mammogram. It's very important whether you do the biopsy or not that you follow-up with your mammograms. Altho most calcifications are benign it's not worth the chance of not following up.
Avatar universal
Thanks so much for explaining your experiences with me! This is all so new to me, at least with the breast issues. What was really creepy was the day I received the letter from the radiology place saying that I could just come back in six months for a follow-up mammogram, there was another letter  in the same mail delivery saying I needed the biopsy. Very confusing. I do believe, though, the radiologist who wants me to get the biopsy, is the more experienced one.

No I haven't been to a breast center. How do I find one of those? Are they usually advertised as a breast center? And would I even be able to see a surgeon before having a biopsy done? The radiologist said I would just go the local hospital to have the biopsy done. It is next to the radiology place. I live in Maryland, by the way. Thanks again!
Avatar universal
Since a radiologist does stereotactic biopsies you don't need to see a breast surgeon but it could be helpful to sort out your options and decide if this is the best proceedure for you with your other problems or if another proceedure might be better. I would tend to go with the more experienced radiologist's opinion, even if it means biopsy. But then again, how experienced is this other radiologist? Another option might be for you to have your mammograms sent to a breast center for a 3rd opinion.To find a good breast center I was told to look for a major teaching hospital with a breast center to get the best surgeon/radiologist, etc. You could try searching on the internet. If you search using "breast specialist" you'll find mostly plastic surgeons. You need to search for "breast cancer specialists."

I've had 3 different types of breast biopsies over the past 8 years - all benign. But, now I have scar tissue and calcifications from the biopsies that muddy the water for my mammograms making them even harder to read and interpret. That's why I  try to avoid unnecessary biopsies. At the same time I don't want others to read my personal experiences and think they should not have a biopsy. A stereotactic is a minimally invasive way to get answers on your calcifications. The RN who answered your question mentioned some places do stereotactics in a sitting position. That would be another option.

Let me know what you decide to do.
Avatar universal
Thank you both for helping me to understand this procedure better than I had before. I have decided to go ahead and have the procedure done where I will lie on my stomach. It will be in about 11 days. I received the results from my last mammogram that was done on my right breast, and the three reasons listed by the second radiologist are as follows: Slowly increasing microcalcifications that look benign, in the right breast (only) compared to previous pictures, and the fact that I have an Aunt that had breast cancer (she was in her 70's) and also the fact that I am on Premarin for 13 years. That is why they recommend the procedure. Again, thank you both for your information and help.
Avatar universal
I hope all goes well. Let us know the results if you can.
218044 tn?1191603319
I too am new at this. I was fisrt diagnosed with a lump just 2 months ago. It can be very scary and confusing and this forum has really helped me. I did not have any family history of breast cancer and a biopsy was recommended, which I did get done at the local hospital by a radiologist MD.. I am not trying to scare you but my pathology came back, much to my surprise, as infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Early detectin and follow-up as soon as possible for any and all necessary tests is important. I just put my trust in the Lord and believed he would guide me to the right doctors. I have been fortunate, living in a small town; to have such great doctors and a local Cancer Center. Most of my docotrs either come down from OU Med.Center or were trained there. My gynogologist set me up or referred me to local doctors, but of course gave me the option to go directly to the Houston Texas Cancer center. I chose not to travel and simply excepted the doctor, (Surgeon) who could see me 1st.  All I can say is keep your hopes up and have as many people as you know help lift you up in prayer. There is power in prayer and in numbers. I am with you lady , you are in my prayers. Montana: I really appreciate all your insight and wisdom!. You are a God sent angel of compassion and empathy! I am so glad that all of your results were benign!. Your continual responces are a great peace of mind. God Bless you both for sharing.
Avatar universal
Hi there, I had the stereotactic biopsy done on 6-18-07, yesterday. It was much easier than I had thought it would be. The doctor was really nice, and I had no pain with the procedure. It only took about 15 minutes of actually being on the table for the biopsy itself.

Thank you both for your positive thoughts, and encouragement, and I will let you know when I hear the results of the test either tomorrow or Thursday, 6-21-07.

Hope you are both doing well.
Avatar universal
I'm so glad the proceedure went well. I'll pray for a good pathology report!
Avatar universal
Hi Velvet, You were right about the whole procedure not being bad at all. I had the doctor who was very nice, and one nurse, and they made me very comfortable during the test. The doctor said they wouldn't have results back for two or three days. Yours must have been done pretty fast for it to be the next day. Were your results benign? They took about twenty samples of tissue from my breast in the one spot, and the nurse showed them to me. The doctor said she took all of that area in question out, so I hope it will be okay.

Take care and thank you for your post and information that was very encouraging. :)
Avatar universal
Hi Montana,

Thanks for keeping track of my posts! You are very kind to keep me in your prayers, and I will post as soon as I know the results. Hope you are doing well! It is kind people like you that help the newcomers to this phase of life learn how to cope with any changes or procedures they are not familiar with. Thank God for angels like yourself!
218044 tn?1191603319
I too am praying that your pathology is benign and nothing more will be needed. I am sorry, I do not spell so well. (Your name or benign?). Here's more hope. When I had my biopsy done they took five pieces, nurse showed me to, kind of like little worms. Disgusting!, but glad to see so much taken out. I like what your docotr said or did in regards to removing it all. When I went back for surgery the docotr said he could no longer feel my lump. I just laughed and said they must of got it all during the biopsy. Amen. But, he then wanted to place this needle, hook thing in to make sure the corrrect spot was marked and removed. After surgery, the lump and surrounding tissue came bak from the pathologist, as NO Cancer AT ALL. Halleluya!.I just laughed again, when my docotr told me this as I thought this was great news! He then said IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THE BIOPSY GOT IT ALL. But, and at least I have  very cautious docotrs, they said I needed an MRI to make sure they got it all and to make sure nothing else is going on in either breast. I get that done on the 21st and then see my oncologist on the 26th, so out. My oncologist agreed with the theory of perhaps the biospy got it all and then just smiled and said maybe you just got lucky. At any rate, I am claiming a miracle healing and no-reoccurance, for the both of us. Amen( which simply means let it be so!). The word stereotactic sure is a big word. What does that mean? Also, pathology report will most likely just be an initial report or patial findings for cell deternination and there may be other tests pending, like HER2 and stuff  as these take even longer. My other stuff was not availalble yet when I saw my oncologist. Keep me posted, I want to jump and shout!
Avatar universal
Hi Everyone,

Just wanted to let you all know that I just talked to the nurse in the cancer department at the hospital, and she was given the go ahead to call me and let me know that my biopsy was benign! YAY! Thank you all for your support and prayers! I wish you all the best, and I pray that you all have good outcomes.

It is so much better to have gone for the biopsy, and know what to deal with one way or the other. Educating ourselves is always the best thing to do, I believe, and I hope I can be of help to others in the future.

Sincerely, ElenaMarie
Avatar universal
Hooray! I'm so glad it was benign. And thanks so much for sharing your results. That will mean a lot to future readers here.
Avatar universal
I was reading your profuie and was soooo Happy to hear that evrything worked out well for you.  I am going on 6-25-06 for a core biopsy and I am crossing my fingers that all works out positively for me as well....
Avatar universal
I hope you will keep us posted on your results as well. I hope everything goes for you, too.
Avatar universal
I sure will.  I am keeping an open mind and praying for the best outcome.  As we all are on this site....Thank you..I will let you know once I have the results...
Avatar universal
A related discussion, stereotactic core biopsy in 4 days was started.
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