A new breast biopsy system that’s compatible with digital breast tomosynthesis — also known as 3D mammography — is now available at the Breast Health Center. Prior to the acquisition of this new piece of equipment, women with certain suspicious breast findings detected through tomosynthesis had to undergo a surgical biopsy.
"We couldn't use our existing biopsy needle techniques for certain findings," explains Catherine Appleton, MD, chief of breast imaging at Malllinckrodt Institute of Radiology and at Siteman Cancer Center. More specifically, they couldn't perform a stereotactic breast biopsy because they couldn't see the findings that 3D mammography could. “Consequently, women with these findings were sent off to the operating room," Appleton says. "This required the radiologist to place a small guidewire in the breast to help the surgeon locate and remove the suspicious area." The new biopsy system, called Affirm® by Hologic, addresses that issue and more.
Above: Women can be seated during their breast biopsy with the new system.
"The Affirm biopsy system permits accurate pre-operative diagnosis. It has also proven to be faster in some cases, as well," says Appleton. Because the new system allows patients to be seated during the procedure rather than prone, it can better accommodate the very elderly and those with back problems. The system snaps onto the mammography unit and the patient is seated in a chair with her breast compressed by the technologist, just as she would with a mammogram.