COVINGTON, Ga. — Piedmont Newton Hospital has purchased a half-million-dollar biopsy attachment that will enable doctors to perform biopsies at the Women’s Diagnostic Center based on 3-D, as opposed to 2-D, mammograms, while the patient sits upright for the procedure.
Biopsies guided by mammograms are called stereotactic biopsies. A patient would typically receive this type of biopsy if her mammogram showed calcifications (calcium spots) or distortions, which are abnormalities in the architecture of the breast without a visible mass.
3-D mammograms, specifically, allow doctors to look at breast tissue one layer at a time, and sometimes a calcification or distortion only appears on one layer. In this circumstance, before the center received the attachment in July, the patient would have had to go to another facility that had the tool for a biopsy of that area of concern.
“With our old unit, we had to see things on two views, in order to be able to target them [for biopsy]. With this unit, if we only see it on one view, we can still target it, which is really important,” said Michelle Ross, M.D., breast radiologist at Piedmont Newton Hospital. “I like to work my patients up from start to diagnosis, so it’s good to not have to send them out to get the diagnosis.”
The new unit also makes it possible to access abnormalities that are located close to the chest wall. When a patient lies face down on the prone table, which has a hole for the breast, the thickness of the table itself can block calcifications, for example, that are further back.
“We can now target practically anything all the way up to the chest wall because we have so many options with positioning,” said Dr. Ross.
Sitting upright instead of lying down for a breast biopsy is also more comfortable for some women.
“Sometimes patients have a hard time laying on their stomach or getting up on the table, so there’s an advantage to that,” said Shona Fincher, a supervisor at the Women’s Diagnostic Center.
So far, Fincher reported that about 10 patients have benefitted from the upright stereotactic biopsy accessory.
The Women’s Diagnostic Center at Piedmont Newton also performs ultrasound-guided and MRI-guided biopsies to diagnose breast cancer. For more information, visit piedmont.org.