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Stereotactic breast biopsies: Radiological-pathological concordance in a South African referral unit

Natasha Alexander
Ilana Viljoen
Susan Lucas


Background: Stereotactic breast biopsies have become the gold standard for tissue diagnosis in non-palpable, sonographically occult breast abnormalities seen on mammogram. Only limited data exist in South Africa on the correlation between imaging findings and stereotactic biopsy histology.
Objectives: To describe the mammographic findings and histological diagnosis in patients who underwent stereotactic breast biopsy at a referral hospital. In addition, to evaluate the proportion of malignancy in each Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) category.
Method: A retrospective review of stereotactic breast biopsies was performed. Imaging characteristics (including BI-RADS category) and histological diagnosis were recorded. Using histopathology, cases were classified as benign, high-risk or malignant.
Results: A total of 131 biopsies, from 123 patients, were included in the study. Most biopsies were performed on asymptomatic patients (79.3%, 104/131). The majority were categorised as BI-RADS 4 and demonstrated calcifications. Histology revealed a malignant diagnosis in 40 (30.5%) patients, a high-risk lesion in 8 (6.1%) patients and a benign diagnosis in 83 (63.4%) patients. There was a stepwise increase in the proportion of malignancy from BI-RADS category 3 to 5. When compared with surgical histology, the stereotactic biopsies demonstrated an overall ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) underestimation rate of 10.3%.
Conclusion: Despite resource restrictions, stereotactic breast biopsies performed in a South African context produce radiological-pathological concordance in keeping with BI-RADS guidelines, as well as with local and international studies.