Women’s Imaging Procedures
Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
Stereotactic breast biopsy is a minimally invasive method for diagnosing breast cancers in their earliest stages. This biopsy method is generally reserved for clustered calcifications that have newly developed or increased over time in the breast. Early breast cancers may present on mammography as a grouping of microcalcifications. Using image guidance, local anesthetic and sterile technique, the calcifications are removed using a needle (just one stick) and sent to pathology for further analysis. A tiny, almost microscopic clip is placed through the biopsy needle to mark the area that was sampled. This is done so that later, if more tissue must be sampled, the radiologist can pinpoint the exact area where the original microcalcifications were located. There are no sutures necessary. The procedure takes about thirty minutes from start to finish, including all preparations such as positioning the patient, localization and targeting of the lesion, the actual biopsy, clip placement and post procedure imaging. The patient is discharged with very few restrictions and post-procedure instructions.
Ultrasound Guided Breast Biopsy
Ultrasound guided breast biopsy is a minimally invasive method for diagnosing breast cancers at an early stage. Ultrasound guided biopsies are generally reserved for masses that can be well demonstrated with ultrasonography. Frequently, these masses are so small that they can not be appreciated by clinical exam and therefore ultrasound guidance is necessary to biopsy such lesions. Using ultrasound guidance, local anesthetic, and sterile technique, the small masses are sampled using a needle and sent to pathology for further analysis. A tiny microscopic clip may be placed to mark the lesion so that later, if more tissue must be sampled, the radiologist can pinpoint the exact area where the original mass was located. There are no sutures necessary. The procedure takes about forty-five minutes from start to finish, including all preparations such as positioning the patient, localization and targeting of the lesion, needle placement and sampling. The patient is discharged with very few restrictions and post-procedure instructions.
Breast MRI is a noninvasive diagnostic test that may be ordered to distinguish between benign and malignant breast lesions, thus potentially reducing the need for breast biopsy. While Breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound, it often provides additional information about the breast that can not be obtained using those two methods. For a breast MRI, the patient is placed face down on a special table that has an opening in it to accommodate the breasts which are comfortably positioned in the magnets coils. The table is then advanced into the MRI unit where the actual scanning takes place. As with other types of MRI procedures, the patient must lie still for the duration of the scan. The physician’s decision to order a breast MRI is made very carefully after reviewing the patient’s history, risk factors, and other diagnostic test results such as mammography and breast ultrasound.
DEXA – Bone Density Scan
A DEXA Scan, also known as a Bone Densitometry or Bone Density Scan is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure a patient's bone mineral density, which is an indicator of bone strength. It is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a degenerative disease that causes bones to become brittle and at increased risk for fracture. The DEXA images are interpreted by a radiologist who has had subspecialty training in DEXA exam interpretations.
DEXA is a quick and painless imaging procedure, and most scans are completed in less than 30 minutes. For a DEXA scan the patient is placed on a flat, padded table. The patient is instructed to remain as still as possible during the scan. The scanning table has an arm-like device that projects over the body. This device sends a thin, invisible beam through the bones, using two energy streams. One is absorbed by the soft tissue and the other by the bones. The amount of radiation used in these energy streams is very small. Density measurements are taken at different areas of the body, and the data that is collected during the scan is sent to a special computer where the bone density is recorded.