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Stereotactic 3D-Guided Breast Biopsy

You have heard the saying that information is power; but it can also provide peace of mind. Being told that you have to return for a diagnostic procedure can be stressful. But knowing the facts and what to expect can help.

Download a PDF with information about Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

What is a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?

A Stereotactic Breast Biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses x-ray imaging techniques to gather tissue samples from a breast abnormality. This biopsy technique can use either 2D or 3D guidance to target and sample lesions. As with all digital mammography, low-dose radiation is used.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy is a procedure that is commonly used, as an alternative to more invasive surgical biopsies. Sometimes these abnormalities turn out not to be a problem. If there is a potential problem, early detection is essential and increases treatment options and the likelihood of successful recovery.

At the Carol Milgard Breast Center our specialized physicians are board-certified radiologists who focus solely on breast screenings and diagnostics, so they have the highest likelihood of detecting potential problems early on. Our technologists have also received specialized training and certification in breast imaging.

While you are at the Carol Milgard Breast Center, you will experience a safe, comfortable and respectful atmosphere, with soft plush robes, private lockers, and a spa-like setting. We offer specialized care in a technologically advanced facility, and foster close partnerships with area physicians and laboratories.


Procedure FAQs

What will the procedure be like?

For your Stereotactic Breast Biopsy appointment, you should plan to be in the center for a couple of hours, which will include all pre- and post-procedure care. The procedure itself will take about 15 to 20 minutes. During this time, you need to remain still, either seated, prone, or lying on your side in position. The breast being biopsied will be compressed (similar to a mammogram), while x-ray imaging is used to help locate the abnormality.

Once the abnormality is located, the area will be cleaned. A radiologist will inject a local anesthetic into your skin and deeper tissues to numb the area. A very small skin incision—approximately 1/4 inch— will be made. Most patients experience some minor discomfort during this process.

The radiologist will then use imaging techniques to locate the abnormality and extract several tissue samples to be sent to your referring provider’s hospital laboratory and interpreted by a pathologist. After the tissue is removed, a small metallic marker will be placed in your breast. This marker is a reference point for future imaging, and confirms that the area of concern has been biopsied. Following your procedure, a mammogram will be performed to document the position of the marker.

Most diagnostic procedures are simple to prepare for and have a quick recovery time. With a few easy steps you will be ready for your procedure.

What do I need to do before my procedure?

When you schedule your procedure, we will review your health history and any medications you are currently taking. On the day of your procedure, you may eat and drink normally. Please wear a supportive bra, and a comfortable, loose fitting two-piece outfit, as you will be asked to remove your top prior to the procedure. A soft robe will be provided for your comfort. Please refrain from wearing any powder, perfume, deodorant and/or lotion on your underarms and breasts prior to the procedure.

What do I need to do after my procedure?
Following your Stereotactic Breast Biopsy, you will need to wear a supportive bra and keep the gauze dressing that covers your incision clean and dry for the first 24–48 hours. You should ice the biopsy site following the procedure. Detailed self-care instructions will be provided to you immediately following your biopsy.
Avoid any strenuous activity for 48 hours following your procedure, especially activities that involve repetitive movement of the chest and arms, such as lifting, vacuuming, swimming, and exercising.
How and when will I learn about my results?

During the biopsy procedure, we will obtain tissue samples, and send it to a laboratory. The laboratory may take a few days to process your tissue samples and provide a final report to your referring provider, and our Nurse Practitioner with our Bridging Care Program. Whomever you have designated will then explain the results to you and answer any follow up questions you may have.

Under the 21st Century Cures Act, we are required by law to provide you access to your results within 24 hours of them being finalized. Unfortunately, this means you could receive your results prior to receiving communication from our team.

How will my referring provider know that I am having a biopsy?

Your referring provider will have sent a referral for this procedure and will receive a report with your results.

What if I have questions about the procedure?
If you have any questions, please contact our Biopsy Coordinator at (253) 301-6600 during normal business hours. If you have questions about whether your insurance company will cover your procedure, please call your insurance company for information.
If you would like a mild sedative for your diagnostic procedure, you will need to receive a prescription from your referring provider prior to your appointment.
If you choose to take a sedative prescribed by your referring provider, you will be required to have a designated driver check in with you and remain on site during the entire procedure.
Where does my specimen go for pathology? Will there be an additional charge for this part of the procedure?

We send the specimens from your biopsy to the Pathology department that is preferred by your referring provider, usually either Cellnetix or Labs NW. There will be additional charges for the preparing and reading of the specimen. We will send a copy of your insurance to the Pathology department so they can bill your insurance for this service.


Center of Excellence 7

The Carol Milgard Breast Center is fully accredited in stereotactic breast biopsy by the American College of Radiology (ACR). The ACR only grants the gold seal of accreditation when a breast center provides patients the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

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