The Stereotactic Biopsy Procedure

by Maggan

in Biopsy,Diagnosis,Pathology,Physicians,Ultrasound


After the MRI, I am scheduled for a biopsy of my left breast. Do I have cancer there also? The Breast “Care” Center, where I had my annual mammogram less than six weeks ago, did, of course, not even mention these calcifications. Did they see them?  I guess I am lucky they finally noticed the  hazelnut in my right breast.  Again, it proves that you have to be careful about where you have your mammogram, and careful about who reads them.

For the biopsy, I have to lie on my side while an x-ray machine squeezes my left breast between two plexi-glass plates until the image of the inside of my breast shows on a computer screen across the room. The room is dark, the light from the computer monitor eerie blue.

A tech cleans my breast before Doctor Kind enters the arena. He is elderly, jovial, and mild mannered. But it still hurts when he numbs me up. He pokes his instrument into my left breast, a clicking sound proceeds each plunge of the needle.

I lie there, uncomfortably, on my side in the windowless room with its low ceiling and claustrophobic atmosphere. Diagnostic radiology must  be the most boring job in the entire world. These doctors spend hour after endless hour  plunging needles into squirming patients while trying to read the images on their computer screen.  How interesting could this be?

Most of these patients will be stressed and worried about the type of specimen the hollow  needle will pull out, anxious over what the pathologist might see under his microscope.   At the same time, I feel  lucky that diagnostic radiologists choose this boring profession and are willing to spend eight years, or more in training to perfect their skills.

Dr. Kind assures me, in his soft spoken way, that he is 95% sure my calcifications will be benign.

“Should they, against all odds, not be benign,” he says. “It will be early and possible to remove without further harm.” By now I know my cancer lingo: Should the cells be malignant, I will have in situ cancer in my left breast,  not invasive, and the cancer would be unlikely to have spread else where in my body.

The good doctor inserts a titanium chip, smaller than a sesame seed, to mark the suspicious site so that if the findings are not what he hoped, the surgeon will easily find the bad spot.

That same evening, around 8.30 P.M., Dr. Kind contacts me at home to see how I am doing. I am moved by this dedication. He easily could have had a nurse or assistant call, or a computer for that matter:

“If you feel good press one, if you feel bad dial 911.”

I tell my husband that I am impressed and have a whole new opinion of the medical profession.

“Well any opinion you have would be new,” he says. “Given your limited exposure, you probably meet doctors more often at cocktail parties than as a patient.”

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