Stereotactic biopsy

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Stereotactic biopsy, also known as stereotactic core biopsy, is a biopsy procedure that uses a computer and imaging performed in at least two planes to localize a target lesion (such as a tumor or microcalcifications in the breast) in three-dimensional space and guide the removal of tissue for examination by a pathologist under a microscope. Stereotactic core biopsy makes use of the underlying principle of parallax to determine the depth or "Z-dimension" of the target lesion.

Stereotactic core biopsy is extensively used by radiologists specializing in breast imaging to obtain tissue samples containing microcalcifications, which can be an early sign of breast cancer.


X-ray-guided stereotactic biopsy is used for impalpable lesions that are not visible on ultrasound.[1]

A stereotactic biopsy may be used, with x-ray guidance, for performing a fine needle aspiration for cytology and needle core biopsy to evaluate a breast lesion. However, that type of biopsy is also sometimes performed without any imaging guidance,[2] and typically, stereotactic guidance is used for core biopsies or vacuum-assisted mammotomy.[3]

Stereotactic core biopsy is necessary for evaluating atypical appearing calcifications found on mammogram of the breast. If the calcifications exhibit the classic "teacup" appearance of benign fibrocystic changes, then a biopsy is usually not necessary.[4]


  1. ^ Adam, Andy; Dixon, Adrian K; (2008). "52, the Breast". Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: a Textbook of Medical Imaging (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. p. 1198. ISBN 978-0-443-10163-2. 
  2. ^ Adam & Dixon 2008, pp. 1195
  3. ^ Adam & Dixon 2008, pp. 1197
  4. ^ Adam & Dixon 2008, pp. 1188

Further reading[edit]

  • Meyer JE, Smith DN, Lester SC, et al. Large-core needle biopsy of nonpalpable breast lesions. JAMA 1999; 281:1638-1641
  • Darling, M. L. R.; Smith, D. N.; Lester, S. C.; Kaelin, C.; Selland, D. L. G.; Denison, C. M.; Dipiro, P. J.; Rose, D. I.; Rhei, E.; Meyer, J. E. (2000). "Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia and Ductal Carcinoma in Situ as Revealed by Large-Core Needle Breast Biopsy". American Journal of Roentgenology 175 (5): 1341–1346. doi:10.2214/ajr.175.5.1751341. PMID 11044038. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the U.S. National Cancer Institute document "Dictionary of Cancer Terms".