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A Pioneer Waking up in the Middle of the Night

It is hard to remember that “it had to start somewhere.” Stereotactic Mammography Needle Biopsies has been the gold standard of care for many years. I am proud to say that I am the first technologist on the Eastern Seaboard to have performed this exam!

Dr. Steve Parker started doing them in Denver, Colorado[i].

Our premier radiologist here at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, NY observed this technology and brought it to LIJMC in October 1991.

Breast biopsy had been done locally as Fine Needle Aspirations (FNA), but we were the first to use a large needle and prove that we were as accurate as surgery in diagnosing pathology. Time Magazine, TV and newspapers covered our accomplishments. We were thrilled in helping our patients know the results of vague areas in their breasts. It saved so many from surgery and helped others in mapping future treatment if suspicious. When we first performed Stereotactic Needle Biopsy, it was unchartered waters. Our head radiologist here in New Hyde Park used to wake up in the middle of the night with an idea to solve a question we had encountered. I called her Beethoven! Our core biopsies proved to be so accurate, we commonly removed the entire area. In 1991, biopsy markers weren’t initially used so it became challenging at time of surgery to localize the initial area. We worked with various companies to demonstrate the “beauty” of inserting clips to document the areas. We were ecstatic to help our patients, physicians and other technologists fight breast cancer.

I have been a Technologist for 44 years and have loved every minute of it. Countless patients of mine are now my friends and family. I have shared tears, hugs and laughs with so many. I love each one of them and they are all my inspiration for each has a story and a journey.

You might ask who my heroes are. My answer is our lead breast radiologist, Dr. Frances Vernace, MD, and my patients. Dr. Vernace is such an intelligent, dedicated and creative physician.

My patients are “my children of the heart” and I will continue to do my best for them every day. It is an honor to serve.

[i] https://www.newsweek.com/needle-instead-knife-197202




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