Medical Breakthroughs: Breast Biopsy

BACKGROUND: Each year in the United States, about 1.2 million women will undergo a breast biopsy after finding a suspicious lump in their breast. Eighty percent of the time, the lump is not cancer.

While that is good news, these women still often undergo surgery just to get a diagnosis or they'll have a painful needle biopsy. In the past few years, researchers have improved at making biopsy procedure easier and less painful on the patient.


  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy - Doctors insert a thin needle into the suspicious lump and remove cells that are then examined under a microscope. Needle aspiration is sometimes done to distinguish between a solid lump and a fluid-filled lump (cyst).

  • Core needle biopsy - Doctors use a large needle fitted with a special cutting tip. As the needle goes through the skin toward the lump or suspicious area, it collects a core of tissue about the size of a pencil lead.

  • Open biopsy - Doctors make an incision in the skin and then remove a sample of the suspicious lump, or the entire lump.

NEW DEVICE: A new device makes the biopsy much faster and less painful. The Automated Tissue Excision and Collection, or ATEC system, is FDA approved and patented by Suros Surgical Systems, Inc.

The ATEC system has a lightweight disposable hand piece that can take 16 biopsies per minute or one every 3.5 seconds. The current biopsy devices take a piece of tissue every 30 seconds. The ATEC device uses a small 9 or 12 gauge needle diameter while collecting tissue sample.

The device is also compatible with ultrasound, stereotactic and MRI technologies. The procedure can be done in a doctor's office or breast center. The device is air-powered and operated by the doctor pushing a foot pedal. Doctors say the device can move an entire abnormality in a matter of minutes without open surgery. They say the patient does not need sedation or stitches, only a Band-Aid on the puncture site.

WHERE IS THE DEVICE BEING USED? The FDA approved the ATEC device in March 2002. Currently, physicians in the following 14 cities are using it:

  • Burlington, NC
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Roanoke, VA
  • West Palm Beach, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Marietta, GA
  • Geneva, IL
  • Elizabethtown, KY
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Muskogee, OK
  • Riverside, CA
  • Long Beach, NY
  • Indianapolis, IN


Suros Surgical Systems
9502 Angola Court, Suite #3
Indianapolis, IN 46268
(877) 887-8767

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