Flaget now provides latest in stereotactic breast biopsies

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Flaget Memorial Hospital is now offering women faced with a suspicious-looking mammogram or small breast lump a less-invasive breast biopsy that keeps women out of the operating room and avoids the stitches and scarring associated with a traditional open surgical biopsy.

Dr. Richard Scalf, a radiologist with Central Kentucky Radiology, the physicians’ group that reads imaging studies at Flaget, is one of the physicians performing the stereotactic breast biopsy (SBB) at Flaget.

“There is a specific table we use to perform the procedure, and the patient would be placed face-down on that table,” Scalf said. “There’s a hole in the table, and her breast would go through that hole. It would be compressed as it would be for a mammogram. The mammographic abnormality, whether it be a mass or calcifications, is then identified.”

“We take several pictures along the way,” the radiologist said. “We give the patient local anesthesia, and then we make a tiny incision in the skin, not enough for a stitch, just big enough to insert the needle. A vacuum device obtains the specimens, which are then sent to pathology.”

At the end of the procedure, the radiologists routinely place a tiny metal clip the size of the end of a ballpoint pen in the breast, Scalf said. “That way if the patient required surgery or additional treatment, this marker allows the surgeon to go back to the exact location where the SBB was done.” The benefits of SBB are many, the physician said: It’s less invasive than a surgical biopsy; patients don’t have to go under general anesthesia, so they don’t face that risk; they have a much shorter recuperation time, and little or no pain; there is little or no scarring of the breast; no stitches are needed (the incision is so small that only a bandage is needed); it’s a brief outpatient procedure; it costs less than surgery, which could be very helpful for a patient with a high medical insurance deductible; and results are extremely accurate.

“SBB represents an accurate and precise sampling of tissue without surgery from a suspected abnormality found on a mammogram,” according to Director of Imaging Services Kelly Boone. “Since most women with an abnormal mammogram do not have breast cancer, but rather have one of several benign breast conditions, SBB spares most women the discomfort and scarring associated with a surgical breast biopsy and allows them to immediately resume their normal activities.”

Flaget President Sue Downs is proud to add SBB to the hospital’s services, she said.

“Studies show that biopsies performed as a stereotactic procedure are as diagnostically reliable as open surgical biopsies,” Downs said. “Early detection of breast cancer is crucial to a woman’s health. That’s why I am extremely pleased to announce that Flaget has expanded its services available to women.”

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