Health Tests

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What Happens During the Test?

You wear a hospital gown that is open in the front. The needle used during a core biopsy is about as thick as a pen tip. It usually is placed into the breast through a tiny incision that has been made in the skin of the breast. Using mammogram or ultrasound images as a guide, or by feeling the lump, the doctor moves the needle into the area of concern. He or she removes one or more tissue samples through the needle with the help of suction from a syringe.

For a stereotactic biopsy, you'll lie on your stomach on a special x-ray table. This table has an opening that allows your breast to hang down during the procedure. An x-ray (mammogram) is taken, and a computer determines the position of the suspicious tissue inside your breast. Then, the computer guides the tip of the biopsy needle directly to the suspicious tissue. The doctor makes only a single puncture in the skin to extract tissue samples for analysis. You should feel pressure but not pain.

Although the biopsy itself takes only a few minutes, the entire stereotactic procedure takes 20-40 minutes. Women who cannot remain still for that long because of physical illness or other problems are not good candidates for stereotactic core needle biopsy.

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