When Do You Need a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy?

The appearance of breast calcifications, the distribution, and any other associated findings may signal early changes in the breast tissue. Signs that may indicate breast tissue changes can include:

  • Masses
  • Lumps
  • Calcifications
  • Abnormal tissue
We know that some patterns of calcifications are more suspicious than others. For example, diffusely scattered vague calcifications throughout the breasts are usually benign (noncancerous). However, other patterns, such as irregular microcalcifications forming a small tight cluster or growing along a larger segment of the breast, may suggest an early pathologic (atypical, precancer, or cancerous) abnormality.

A specialized radiologist with many years of training in women's imaging or breast imaging interprets the magnified images to distinguish the different patterns of calcifications and whether there are any associated findings. Some patterns of calcifications can be followed, while others may require a needle biopsy to determine if they are benign or cancerous, or in between (atypical or precancerous). Calcifications are described and categorized by the American College of Radiology under a special lexicon called the Breast Imaging–Reporting and Data System, called BI-RADS for short.

The more experience the radiologist has, the more confident you can be if a particular finding can be followed or if it needs to be biopsied.

What to Expect With a Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

The stereotactic breast biopsy is usually scheduled for a different day than the diagnostic mammogram workup to give you time and instructions to prepare. 
Preparing for the Biopsy

There are a few things we ask you to do to prepare before your procedure.

  • Do not take medicines that can thin the blood unless you are directed to continue taking them by your referring physician. Some patients may have special reasons they need to stay on their blood thinners, such as a recent metal bore cardiac stent or clotting disorder. Always listen to your referring clinician regarding those decisions. We advise against taking aspirin if you are solely on it for prevention reasons.
  • Do not use deodorant, body lotion, or powders on the breast, as these may produce false alarms as small aluminum or metallic particles may mimic calcifications.
  • Refrain from any rigorous activities for one to two days after the procedure. So plan your tennis match either before or several days after your stereotactic breast biopsy. If you are planning an active vacation to include activities such as swimming, rigorous hiking, or skiing, consider postponing the biopsy until you return. Even though there will be only a tiny nick on the skin, we want to minimize the chance of soreness, infection, or bleeding at the site.
During the Biopsy
  • You will lie on your abdomen on a special padded table that looks like a massage table.
  • Several assistants will help with the procedure, including the technologist, the radiologist, and a patient navigator.
  • The technologist will obtain a few low-dose mammography magnification views for targeting.
  • The radiologist will anesthetize the skin with a tiny numbing needle and use stereotactic guidance to see where the calcifications are located in the 3D space.
  • Another special needle called a “probe” is inserted at the target site, through which more anesthetic is given and a light vacuum is directed to the calcifications. The obtained sample will be X-rayed and sampled by the pathologist.
After the Biopsy

You will likely experience slight bruising of the breast for a few days. Some women may feel a lump under the biopsy site for up to a week. This lump is from the serum and blood that the body sends to the area as its natural way of healing. If the lump is the size of a small plum or larger, please reach out to our clinical care team and select the “physician/patient pathology” phone option to discuss any changes to your protocol.

Infection is extremely rare, but call us if you have a fever, chills, or any redness at the site of the biopsy. Some people may experience contact sensitivity from the tape on the skin, which appears red, but this is often associated with a geographic non-warm, non-streaking area that perfectly fits the line of the tape. If you are sensitive to the tape, remove it and wear a tight sports bra instead. Call your referring clinician or us if you have any concerns.

The results of your breast stereotactic biopsy will be available in 1-2 working days. The Women’s Imaging Center Patient Navigator and the Radiologist correlate the results and coordinate any follow-up care or management indicated. Follow-up magnification images after the biopsy may be recommended even for benign biopsies. A contrast breast MRI can help with treatment planning if the biopsy proves to be cancer. We will work with your referring clinician to coordinate an individualized treatment plan with surgeons or oncologists to fit your particular needs.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy in Denver

Meet Our Specialists

When it comes to reading imaging tests, experience matters. At The Women’s Imaging Center, our radiologists are fellowship-trained and have received the highest awards for excellence in women’s imaging. Our patients have voted us as Denver's Most Trusted Mammogram Center. If you need a breast biopsy, we navigate you through the whole process from diagnosis to treatment.

Kelly McAleese, M.D.

Timothy Colt, M.D.

Barbara Jaegar, M.D.

John Lewin, M.D.


Frequently Asked Questions About Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

What is Breast Stereotactic Biopsy?

Breast Stereotactic Biopsy is a minimally invasive diagnostic procedure used to obtain a tissue sample from a suspicious area in the breast. It is usually recommended when an abnormality is seen on a mammogram or ultrasound and further investigation is needed to determine if it is cancerous.

How is Breast Stereotactic Biopsy performed?

During a Breast Stereotactic Biopsy, we ask the patient to lie on their stomach on a special table where the breast can be compressed and immobilized. Using low-dose mammography, we locate the area of concern. A small incision is made, and a needle is inserted into the breast to remove a tissue sample, which will be sent to a lab for analysis.

What does a Breast Stereotactic Biopsy look for?

The Breast Stereotactic Biopsy looks for any abnormalities in the breast tissue that could indicate cancer, such as lumps, calcifications, or other changes.

What percentage of Breast Stereotactic Biopsies are cancer?

The percentage of Breast Stereotactic Biopsies that show cancer varies depending on the individual case, the size and location of the suspicious area, and other factors. Studies have shown that between 20% and 30% of Breast Stereotactic Biopsies result in breast cancer diagnosis.

How long does it take to heal from a Breast Stereotactic Biopsy?

After a Breast Stereotactic Biopsy, patients may experience pain, swelling, or bruising in the breast area. These symptoms usually go away within a few days to a week. Patients can usually resume their normal activities within a day or two of the procedure, but should avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for a week or two. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions for aftercare to ensure proper healing.

Insurance Options We Honor

At the Women's Imaging Center, we accept most major insurance providers and provide affordable self-pay options. If you have any questions about whether we accept your insurance, please contact us at 303-321-2273.

Find Stereotactic Breast Biopsy near me

We serve patients in the Greater Denver area, with multiple locations for your convenience. Discover how our fellowship-trained radiologists provide patients with the best care in the industry through our stereotactic breast biopsy services.