Changing Patterns of Care for Occult Breast Lesions in a Community Teaching Hospital

Hyser, Matthew J.; Vanuno, Daniel; Mallesh, Asha; Cunningham, Myles; Dill, Karen; Calandra, Joseph; Cronin, Tom; Atkinson, Janis
May 2000
American Surgeon;May2000, Vol. 66 Issue 5, p438
Academic Journal
We performed a retrospective analysis of 384 consecutive stereotactic breast biopsies (SBBs) from March 1995 through January 1999 and compared it with our historical breast biopsy experience. Two hundred forty-four patients underwent biopsies for microcalcifications and 135 patients for abnormal mammographic densities. Pathology diagnoses included 302 patients with benign disease, 35 patients with atypical ductal hyperplasia, 4 patients with lobular carcinoma in situ, 29 patients with ductal carcinoma in situ, and 9 patients with invasive breast cancer. These diagnostic rates were compared with our prior needle-localized pathology findings. For the study period, the number of mammograms, open biopsies, and needle-localized biopsies remained stable. The number of SBBs, however, increased progressively in every year. Medicare reimbursement for SBB was $921.19, and for breast biopsy after needle localization, $1566.22. Our study strongly suggests that the availability of SBB has significantly lowered the threshold for recommending biopsy of abnormal mammograms. The increased utilization of SBB almost certainly indicates an increase in the overall cost of breast care. This cost must be balanced against substantial potential benefits of this minimally invasive technique: possible earlier diagnosis of atypical and precancerous lesions, patient reassurance in cases of uncertain mammographic interpretation, and a reduced need for follow-up of indeterminate mammograms.


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