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First-of-its Kind Prone Breast Biopsy System at St. Clair Offers Exceptional Patient Experience and Diagnostic Accuracy
By Nancy Kennedy

St. Clair Hospital is the first hospital in the region to offer women an advanced breast cancer diagnostic technology that is changing the way breast biopsies are performed. The Hologic Affirm Prone Breast Biopsy System, located at St. Clair’s state-of-the-art Breast Care Center, is a transformative innovation in breast cancer diagnosis and care and offers numerous advantages to the patient while enhancing the capabilities of the radiologist. “This system combines leading-edge technology with the best possible patient experience,” says Andrea Sanfilippo, M.D., a board-certified radiologist and Director of Breast Imaging for St. Clair. “We can biopsy lesions that are difficult to access. It allows us to use 3-dimensional imaging to locate and target the area of concern for biopsy with great precision. Some lesions are a challenge to detect and reach using conventional imaging technology; this prone system is ideal and gives us new capabilities. Including 360 degree access.”

The standard for breast biopsy has been stereotactic biopsy, which means that the patient’s breast is compressed between two plates while x-rays are taken to produce multiple images from different angles. The new prone biopsy system takes this further, enabling the radiologist to obtain three-dimensional images. “We had extensive experience with stereotactic biopsy; now we can do the biopsy in 3D if we see a lesion under tomography. We can reproduce that identical image,” explains Darrie Cosban, R.T. (R)(M) (BD), A.R.R.T., C.B.D.T., supervisor of The Breast Care Center. Having this level of precision makes it possible for the radiologist to locate the lesion and precisely guide the biopsy needle.

For the patient, the advanced prone system offers many benefits. Number one, says Cosban, is patient comfort. “The patient has to lie prone, on the stomach, for the biopsy, and we are able to make them very comfortable. The system supplies a collection of ergonomic, memory foam pads of various sizes and shapes that we use to help position, support and comfort the patient. It facilitates a customized experience for each individual patient. Getting the patient positioned correctly is key: once that is done, the actual biopsy is a 15-minute procedure.” The patient receives a Lidocaine injection to numb the area, so that there is minimal discomfort. Additional numbing agents are provided during the biopsy, and a registered nurse is with the patient the entire time.

St. Clair’s Breast Cancer Center team is sensitive to the anxiety involved in having a breast biopsy. When a lesion is identified on mammogram, Dr. Sanfilippo sits down with the patient immediately and explains that something indeterminate has been seen and will require further evaluation. The biopsy is scheduled for a separate day, and the patient is guided through the entire experience by the Breast Center’s nurse navigator, Chris Conley, R.N. Conley calls the patient the day before the procedure, sees them during the procedure, calls her the following day, and calls her when the pathology report is ready. If breast cancer has been detected, she provides the names and phone numbers of breast surgeons.

In keeping with St. Clair Hospital’s patient-centered philosophy, the Breast Care Center team focuses on the patient experience. “We make this experience as easy on the patient as possible,” says Cosban. “There is less anxiety because the patient is positioned in a way that blocks her view of the biopsy instruments. The procedure is quick, there is a shorter period of breast compression and there is less radiation exposure. This is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require anesthesia or a recovery period.”

Feedback from women who have experienced the new prone biopsy system has been positive. “We are so pleased to be able to offer this advanced technology to the women of our community,” says Dr. Sanfilippo. “We are committed to providing the best possible care, and the ability to biopsy small areas of breast tissue with this superior system represents a major advantage in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, for the patients and for our physicians. It demonstrates St. Clair’s commitment to bringing the latest technology to the people of the community.”

To schedule a mammogram appointment at St. Clair Hospital’s Breast Care Center, call (412) 942-8150. The Breast Care Center is located at the St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center – Village Square at 2000 Oxford Drive in Bethel Park.



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