What is stereotactic breast needle biopsy?

Updated: Aug 09, 2018
  • Author: Hemant Singhal, MD, MBBS, MBA, FRCS, FRCS(Edin), FRCSC; Chief Editor: Meda Raghavendra (Raghu), MD  more...
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The establishment of national breast-screening programs in Europe and North America led to an increase in the detection of small or impalpable breast lesions. The ability to achieve an accurate histopathologic diagnosis of these lesions is crucial to any screening program in terms of appropriate treatment planning and patient counseling.

Stereotactic breast needle biopsy refers to the sampling of nonpalpable or indistinct breast lesions by using techniques that enable the spatial localization of the lesion within the breast. The word stereotactic is derived from Greek and Latin roots meaning "touching in space." Stereotactic techniques have evolved in parallel with the trend in breast conservation and minimally invasive surgery.

In the past, impalpable breast lesions would have been surgically excised after needle localization, resulting in a vast number of surgeries for nonmalignant mammographic abnormalities. In the United States, it is estimated that more than a million surgical breast biopsies are performed, and in only 15%-30% are the samples subsequently found to be malignant.

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