Thanks to better imaging and increased screening, many breast lumps today are detected at the earliest stages, often when lesions are small and hard to locate during surgery. Removal of these often non-palpable (cannot be found by touch alone) lesions requires the use of a localization device to help mark their location. Currently that often requires patients to arrive early on the day of surgery, check in to the pre-op area and then go to radiology to have a wire placed through the skin to the mass. The external portion of the wire is covered and the patient is transported back to the pre-op area. This can be a stressful and time-consuming process.
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is introducing a new way for physicians to mark and find breast lesions. LOCalizer™ is an FDA-cleared system that uses the latest technology to bring more precision for providers and less stress for patients. Women & Infants is the first in the region to adapt this new technology.
"The fact that we are able to detect breast lumps earlier is fantastic, but it has definitely made the removal of these significantly smaller masses more challenging," said David Edmonson, MD, breast surgeon with the Breast Health Center at Women & Infants Hospital, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and a member of the Care New England Medical Group. "We spent more than a year trialing different devices and found the LOCalizer to offer tremendous benefit to our patients who can now have the device placed prior to the day of surgery, in a less rushed, less stressful environment."
The LOCalizer tag can be placed in the breast up to 30 days before surgery - this takes place under local anesthesia (the area is numbed) and the tag is inserted with a needle under ultrasound or x-ray guidance. Each tag has a unique identification number to clearly mark the lesion. On the day of surgery, the surgeon then uses the LOCalizer reader to confirm the position and identification of the tag, allowing him to better plan the surgical path and remove the lesion.
Most patients experience less discomfort, less waiting and the avoidance of the hassle of having to have the mass marked on the day of surgery, when they are already anxious and concerned. There is also the benefit of not having something sticking out of the skin, which often compounds the concern that there is something in the breast that shouldn't be there and could be a cancer.
Dr. Edmonson continued, "For the surgeon, placement ahead of time leads to better flow in the operating room and in diagnostic imaging, which also helps to alleviate stress for the patient, in what is already a stressful time. This will be a dramatic improvement for patients with suspicious breast masses, and is the latest in our efforts to provide only the best for our patients."
Women & Infants introduced LOCalizer earlier this year and has done more than 100 procedures using this technology.