Stereotactic Core Biopsy

A stereotactic core biopsy (SCB) uses a mammography machine to guide a biopsy needle into an area of concern. When suspicious lesions are identified on a mammogram, but cannot be found with ultrasound or clinical breast exam, a mammogram is used to create the necessary visibility to find the lesion. One of the most common reasons for a SCB is to biopsy microcalcifications, which are flecks of white calcium usually only seen on a mammogram, and almost always missed by clinical breast exam, ultrasound or MRI.

How does it work?

A stereotactic biopsy is usually performed in a radiology suite. You are either seated in a chair or lie on a table (depending on the type of equipment), while your breast is placed between the imaging plates and a mammogram is taken to find the area of suspicion.

Your breast is maneuvered to an opening in a plate which aligns with the target area, while your breast is left softly clamped in position for the rest of the procedure. The radiologist uses Betadine to clean the skin, and injects local anesthesia into your breast skin and tissue to numb the area.  Your radiologist then makes a tiny nick, inserts a biopsy needle, and removes a portion of tissue from the suspicious area. The tissue samples themselves are then imaged with a mammogram to confirm removal of the target.

What happens afterwards?

After all the samples are taken, a titanium clip is deployed to mark the biopsy site (don’t worry, you won’t set off airport security, you can’t feel the clip, and it doesn’t migrate).  The clip is important for several reasons:

  • To mark the correct spot – small masses can disappear, and if cancer is found, it needs to be completely removed, so the clip confirms the location
  • To prove that the mass has already been evaluated – anyone reading your future mammograms will know that this area was biopsied
  • To create clarity – if the mass were seen on ultrasound and mammogram, a repeat mammogram after the biopsy will need to show the clip in the right spot – otherwise, it is possible that ultrasound and mammogram actually saw two different things

After the clip is successfully placed, gentle pressure is placed on the breast for about 10 minutes to stop any bleeding on the inside from the biopsy.  No stitches are needed – a band aid is placed over the small incision and you can drive home or go back to work immediately afterwards.

Does it hurt, and for how long?

Most people can have a little discomfort, and you might be sore enough to need some Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Ice helps ease the pain, and an icepack should be offered to you after the biopsy. Exercise or immersing underwater (like in a Jacuzzi or bath) is prohibited for 2 days, but other than that, you can shower and perform usual activities right away.

How accurate is it?

Stereotactic core biopsies take large enough tissue sample so that results are 95-98% accurate.

How soon will I know the results?

The pathology of your SCB will determine if the suspicious lesion contained any abnormal cells, such as cancer. Pathology results can take any number of days, all depending on the which day of the week and where the biopsy was taken, whether path results are interpreted in-house or outsourced, and whether the department in question is multi-disciplinary or dedicated solely to breast cancer. At the Pink Lotus Breast Center, we have developed a unique process that allows patients to typically receive their results by the next business day, which can help with keeping anxiety at bay.

13 Responses to “Stereotactic Core Biopsy”



  • Nancy Pecoraro:

    Great info,lots of changes since my 1st bout in 1993 right breast lumpectomy, 19 limps removed, 42 radiation,
    i am as scared as I was then,but keeping a positive attitude & a few prayers help a lot.

  • Tracy Davis:

    I had a stereotactic biopsy in Mar,after two abnormal mammograms. I met with the Dr a week later to finally get my results. I was told “no cancer. Have a follow up mammo in 6 months” or about Sept/Oct. In early July,I received a post card reminder to have a mammo by Aug 24. I've had the mammo & the result is still abnormal. I have a Dr appt tomorrow. Oh…in the biopsy result it stated “rare microcalcifications” I'm freaked out…

  • Sanjim88:

    I have been on Arimidex 1 mg for for 3 years, how important is this to continue? no ins. unemployed

  • Cgreen1753:

    I am having a stereotatic core biopsy tomorrow, my mammo showed califications and the Dr. thought it should be checked out. I am bit scared. I pray whatever they find will be benign. Actually I am freaking out as the time gets closer.

  • Sharon:

    I have had two ultrasound led biopsies in the past six month.  I am a large breasted woman and both time the marker clips have migrated and not ended up in the proper position.  Today I underwent a third biopsy using thestereotactic mammogram procedure.  What are the chances of this clip once again moving?

  • Olivia10*2009:

    I am new to “core biopsies”  I have read everything here and it seems like these are done when a good reading from a mammogram or ultrasound cannot be determined.  The ultra sound yielded some calcification on my right breast that the technician said could be dead tissue or early stage breast cancer.  Pretty freaked out. Anyone been through this??

  • Irintention:

    I had a sterotatic clip left in place and every time i go for a mamogram, i experience pain/soreness and annoying discomfort in my breast for up to 2months.  i also avoid drinking cold drinks because i feel increase discomfort when the liquid is going down my esophagus. the feeling is like when you have tooth sensitivity to cold when drinking or eating cold.  I have to hold my breast.  i am wondering if i should have that clip removed.

  • MoSunShine:

    So I’ve recently found out I need to have the Stereotactic Core Biopsy done and I am uneasy about this whole waiting game once it’s done. The article helped alot with the thoughts I could not formulate in front of my doctor for the question/answer segment. I’m just going to Pray about it and do my best not to stress out. To all women in my shoes are We Will Get Through This.

    • Jeanette Burton12:

      Hi,  I am having a stereotacic Core Biopsy done this Friday and have been stressing out. I have concerns and wanting to know if there is any pain during the biospy  Good Luck to you

    • Tsmith04:

      So, how did it all go? I have to have a sterotactic biopsy tomorrow and I am worried sick about it. They found some calcifications and I am worried about the outcome but for the moment, i’m really worried about the procedure alone.

  • R Breshears_eph5:

    Im having this done this morning. thank you for the information. a little nervous by the unknown.

  • Sherry:

    Just had this done today. Did not know what to expect. I was sitting in a chair for this I think laying on a table would of been easier on me since I had to stay very still for a hour and and half. Now the waiting game but very high hopes everything will be good.

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