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A mammotome is a vacuum assisted breast biopsy device that uses image guidance such as x-ray, ultrasound and/or MRI to perform breast biopsies. A Mammotome biopsy can be done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic, removes only a small amount of healthy tissue, and doesn’t require sutures (stitches) because the incision is very small. The Mammotome is currently manufactured and sold by Mammotome, a division of Devicor Medical Products Inc..
Benefits of the procedure
A definitive diagnosis of the breast abnormality can usually, but not always, be made. Most women who have had both a surgical excisional biopsy and a Mammotome biopsy state that the Mammotome biopsy is far less stressful physically and emotionally. Cancer that is first diagnosed by a Mammotome biopsy can usually be treated with one operation instead of two.
Risks associated with the procedure
During the biopsy, most patients experience only mild discomfort. Rarely patients may experience significant bleeding or pain during the biopsy. Following the biopsy, bruising is common. Discomfort, tenderness, and bleeding at the biopsy site are all usually mild, but occasionally they are significant. Post-biopsy breast infection and other risks and complications rarely occur. Complications, from this biopsy or any other type of breast biopsy, can delay subsequent breast surgery. The metal marker sometimes attaches to breast tissue too far from the biopsy site to be useful as a future reference. Rarely patients may have an allergic reaction to the local anesthetic.
Limitations of the procedure
Lesions accompanied by diffuse calcium deposits scattered throughout the breast are difficult to target by stereotactic biopsy. Those lesions near the chest wall also are hard to evaluate by this method. If the mammogram shows only a vague change in tissue density but no definite mass or nodule, the x-ray-guided method may not be successful. Occasionally, even after a successful biopsy, the tissue diagnosis remains uncertain and a surgical biopsy will be necessary, especially when atypical or precancerous cells are found on core biopsy.
- Mammotome entry in the public domain NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms