Breast Imaging - Beyond Mammography

Breast Ultrasound

As a follow up to a lump found on mammography, breast ultrasound is often recommended. This uses sound waves to produce an image of the internal structures. The sound is transmitted and received by a transducer that rests on the skin surface. Ultrasound is painless.

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

This procedure offers a minimally invasive way of diagnosing a suspicious finding. Most women are candidates for this form of breast biopsy, which is as accurate as a surgical breast biopsy, less costly and less painful. To undergo a stereotactic breast biopsy a woman is placed on her stomach in a special mammography unit. Only a local anesthetic in the skin is required. A computer assists your surgeon in guiding a special biopsy needle into the suspicious area using digital imaging guidance. Very small core biopsies of the breast are taken. The procedure is brief, minimally painful and the patient is discharged with only steri-strips on the breast. The removed tissue is sent to pathology for complete evaluation.

Pre- Operative Hook-wire Localization

Hook-wire localization is a mammogaphically guided procedure performed to help guide a surgeon to a lump that will be surgically excised. It is done immediately before a surgical biopsy.

A local anesthetic is injected in the appropriate location in the skin of the breast. A special needle is then placed into the breast using mammographic imaging guidance. After confirming accurate placement of the needle and adjusting its position when needed, the radiologist removes the needle leaving a soft hooked wire behind to help guide the surgeon. This procedure is minimally painful and is associated with very minimal risks.

Some Risk Factors to be aware of include:

  • A family history of breast cancer (particulary a mother, sister or daughter)
  • A previous diagnosis of cancer in one breast
  • A prior abnormal breast biopsy
  • Menstruation before 12 and menopause after 55
  • Giving birth later in life or being childless
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy
  • Having dense breast tissue