Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Woman lying on stereotactic breast biopsy machine, which technician is operating.

Stereotactic breast biopsy is used to take out tiny pieces of the changed area of breast tissue so they can be studied under a microscope. This procedure uses X-rays to find the tissue to be removed. It may prevent the need for an open (surgical) biopsy.

Before the procedure

  • Tell your healthcare provider what medicines you take. This includes all prescription medicines, and over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. It also includes street drugs and any herbs, vitamins, or supplements. Ask if and when you should stop taking them.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about any allergies you have.

  • Wear a top that’s easy to take off and a comfortable bra.

  • Bathe before the procedure. Don't wear perfume, deodorant, antiperspirant, lotion, powder, or any other substance on your skin.

  • Try to empty your bladder before the procedure to help you be more comfortable on the table.

During the procedure

  • You undress from the waist up and put on a gown that opens in the front.

  • The position you will be in for the procedure may vary. It will be based on the safest and easiest method to reach the changed breast area. It will also depend on the type of machine used to do the biopsy. The most common position is face down.

  • Your breast is placed through an opening in the table. The skin on your breast is cleansed and numbed.

  • The breast is pressed between 2 flat plates and a low-dose X-ray is taken. The X-ray helps find the exact tissue to be sampled. You will have to be very still while this is done, and you may be asked to hold your breath for a short time.

  • A hollow needle is then guided to the changed tissue inside your breast. It's used to take out several tiny samples of this breast tissue.

  • After the needle is removed, a small bandage is placed on the skin.

  • Sometimes a small metal marker is put into the biopsy site to help find the area for future exams. A mammogram is usually done to make sure the marker has been placed in the correct position.

  • You can get dressed and go home soon after the procedure is finished.

After the procedure

  • Don’t do any physical work or strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after the procedure. You can usually return to your normal routine after this brief period of rest.

  • Ask how long you should use a waterproof ice pack over the biopsy area, when your bandage can be taken off, and when you can take medicine, including aspirin, again.

  • You may have a bruise for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. This is normal. You may also have a tiny scar.

  • If you have fever, excessive bleeding, swelling, or other problems, call your healthcare provider.

  • Ask your doctor when you will get the results of the biopsy and who will explain them to you.