Health Articles - Stereotactic Breast Biopsy



We are fortunate to live in an era with access to advancing technology that can make all the difference in terms of faster detection, earlier diagnosis and greater precision for treatment. One such aspect, stereotactic breast biopsy, is non-invasive, accurate and cost effective.

X-ray guided (stereotactic) biopsy utilizes a digital mammography machine directing intersecting coordinates to locate a suspicious area of tissue change within the breast that has been previously noted on mammography. The 3-D ability of this procedure can pinpoint otherwise undetected irregularities with superb exactness. The biopsy is obtained via a vacuum-assisted device (VAD) sampling the entire region of interest. The significant advantage of the VAD is that probing is not necessary. A titanium clip is left at the biopsy site for future reference should the pathology prove a cancer is present.

Visalia Women's Imaging Specialists is performing this procedure by experienced interventional radiologists. Technologists, Nancy Gerrard, Roxane Merrills, and Jackie Montemayor have many years experience in this particular field. They underwent specialized training to learn the intricate details of the machinery and gain the knowledge required for this procedure. Nancy notes, "Because we are a small, dedicated department, we are able to devote our complete attention to the patient and take as much time as needed to assure her comfort. It is purposely kept quiet and private with soothing music." Combining the radiological approach with the biopsy is becoming a popular diagnostic trend. "There are minor post-procedural side effects," according to Roxane, "almost all of our patients mention only a slight sensation during the procedure."

Breast cancer incidence has been on a continual increase for the past two decades. Beginning in 2001 the incidence started to level off. The promising news is that estimates indicate a significant reduction (approximately 16%) in breast cancer diagnosis for 2007 compared to 2006 (American Cancer Society data). With improvement in technology, continued patient education and proactive lifestyle changes for women of all ages, we are gaining on the collective war against this pervasive disease.