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Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

What is Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?

When lumps or abnormalities are detected in the breast a stereotactic biopsy may be ordered as a non-surgical method of assessing the area. In stereotactic breast biopsy, a special mammography machine uses x-rays to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormality so samples can be removed for review. A pathologist will examine the removed specimen and will make a final diagnosis.

What will the exam be like?

Once you arrive at the imaging department you will be asked to change into a gown before your procedure. You will also be asked to remove jewelry, or any metal objects that could obscure the area of interest. A Mammography Technologist and a Radiology Nurse will assist the Radiologist with the procedure. The technologist will position you on a specially designed examination table that will allow you to lie face down with your breast hanging freely through an opening in the table. Compression is applied to hold the breast in position throughout the procedure. The table is then raised and the biopsy procedure is performed beneath the table.

Several stereotactic x-ray images are taken to locate the area of interest. The radiologist will inject a local anesthetic into the breast to numb it prior to making a small incision in the skin where the biopsy needle is to be inserted. The radiologist then inserts the needle and advances it to the location of the abnormality using the x-ray and computer generated coordinates. X-ray images are again obtained to confirm that the needle tip is within the area of interest. Tissue samples are then removed and sent to pathology for results. A small marker may be placed at the site so that it can be located in the future. The needle will then be removed. Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. No sutures are needed. Lastly, a mammogram may be performed to confirm that the marker is in the proper position.

How do I prepare for the exam?

You will be informed of what to do to prepare for your procedure when your exam is scheduled. Typically, you will be told not to wear deodorant, perfume, powders or ointments in the underarm area or on the breasts. You will also be asked about blood thinning medications you may be taking. However, please follow the instructions given to you when scheduling your exam.

How long will the exam take?

A stereotactic breast biopsy will take 1-2 hours to perform.


You should have little or no discomfort from this procedure. Some patients find that the major discomfort of the procedure is from lying on their stomach for the length of the procedure, which can be reduced by strategically placed cushions. You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours but can resume normal activities after that.


A pathologist examines the removed specimen and makes the final diagnosis. The final diagnosis will be sent to your health care provider who will then communicate the results to you.


Women should always inform their health care provider or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you should have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7770.