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G Chir. 2005 May;26(5):187-93.

[Non palpable lesions of the breast: the Mammotome-biopsy in the preoperative management of breast cancer].

[Article in Italian]

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  • 1Divisione di Chirurgia Generale, Vascolare e Mininvasiva,Ospedale Civile S. Matteo, ASL n. 3 dell'Umbria - Spoleto (PG).



Breast tumour takes first place for frequency in women in Western Countries and is in constant increase. The diagnosis of the so-called non palpable lesions is increased remarkably above all due to the diffusion of mammographic screening and to a greater awareness of the problem. Furthermore it is helped by an important development of mininvasive diagnostic methods: the traditonal cytology with fine needle is supported by various trans-skin bioptic procedures (micro-histological examination). This methods almost always replaces the surgical excisional biopsy and frozen intraoperative examination, still used but reserved for particular cases.


In our Department of General and Mininvasive Surgery, from December 1999 to September 2004, we carried out 214 biopsies, with the collaboration of the radiological Service, under echographic guidance using vacuum--assisted biopsy (Mammotome) with 11-Gauge needle. The results are examined and discussed here in this report with regard to diagnostic accuracy, quantity and quality of information, significant for subsequent surgical management.


Of 214 biopsies carried out with Mammotome technique, 89.3% of the cases are clinically non palpable lesions, with a average diameter of 8 mm. The average age of patients was 57.6 years (range 31-88). There are 90 cases of positive malignant pathology (42%). In the atypical ductal iperplasia and radial scar cases (6%) surgical removal of lesion was carried out which confirmed the previous bioptic diagnosis in 100% of cases. The 19% of patients submitted to a Mammotome biopsy was subject previously to cytology with fine needle. Comparing the results of both methods the diagnostic reliability of Mammotome was significantly superior (p < 0.05) as also the amount of information obtained (histotype, invasivity, grading, estrogen receptor, etc.); discomfort linked to the procedure, valued as pain (VAS), resulted inferior to the discomfort of biopsy with fine needle. The only complication of Mammotome biopsy is represented by haematoma in the biopsy site (8% of cases). The number of false negatives was one case due to incorrect targeting.


In the present situation, the choice of method is conditioned by the degree of radiological suspicion, taking into account the information obtained thereby, in order to ensure the appropriate surgise management. Mammotome biopsy of non palpable lesions of the breast, in our experience, is preferable if suspicion of malignancy is high. In this way a correct preoperative strategy can be prepared. Including the sentinel lymphnode method. Consequently a decision regarding the type of surgery can be taken (generally conservative), as well as making easier the intraoperative localisation of lesion by positioning the metallic clips during biopsy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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