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Am J Surg. 1996 May;171(5):471-3.

The role of stereotactic biopsy in assessment of nonpalpable breast lesions.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, USA.



When mammography identifies a lesion suspicious for cancer, stereotactic needle core biopsy (SCNB) and needle localization (NL) surgical biopsy are options for obtaining tissue. This study compared the results of these two biopsy methods in evaluating nonpalpable radiologically suspicious breast lesions.


Records of 292 women who underwent SCNB or surgical biopsy at two institutions were reviewed over 28 months. The women were separated into two groups, under 50 years of age and 50 years of age and older.


A total of 70 women over the age of 50 had stereotactic biopsy. One hundred and three had NL biopsies. The rate of positivity was 37% and 33% for stereotactic and NL biopsy respectively (P = 0.693). A total of 44 women under the age of 50 had stereotactic biopsy. Seventy had NL biopsies. The rate of positivity was 7% and 21%, respectively, for stereotactic and NL (P = 0.082). NL surgical biopsy costs on average $2354.00. SCNB averages $949 including follow-up mammogram.


SCNB is a cost-effective, accurate method of breast biopsy. This report retrospectively compares SCNB with surgical open biopsy aided by NL. The cost savings occurred primarily in surgeon's fees and anesthesia fees. We found no statistical difference in < 50- or > 50-year-old patients in the frequency of the diagnosis of breast cancer when comparing the two types of biopsies.

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