Ask a Doctor: How is a breast biopsy performed?

Q: How does a doctor know where to get the right tissue sample for a breast biopsy?

Laura Witherspoon, MD University Surgical Associates

Laura Witherspoon, MD
University Surgical Associates

A: In simple terms, a biopsy is a procedure where a small amount of tissue is taken from the body to be examined more closely. If your mammogram shows an area of concern, one advanced technique is a stereotactic breast biopsy using the Hologic Affirm 3D breast biopsy system. Experienced breast surgeons use computer-aided 3D imaging to guide a needle to the exact point of the abnormality that was picked up by the mammogram. The 3D technology scans the breast quickly, producing a 360-degree view. Images taken from many different angles ensure the sample of tissue is removed from the correct location.

With stereotactic breast biopsy, surgeons can biopsy areas that previously would have required surgery and complete them more quickly and more comfortably than ever before. The ergonomically engineered cushions provide custom, targeted pressure-point support to improve comfort. This form of biopsy is a less-invasive alternative to surgical biopsy, requires little recovery time and scarring is minimal to none.

— Laura Witherspoon, M.D., University Surgical Associates