New: Radiofrequency Seeds Aid Breast Surgery, Improve Cosmetic Results

Breast Cancer Surgery
Print icon

Not all breast disease can be felt, so surgeons have developed ways to mark the lump or lesion for more effective removal. At Hartford HealthCare, that process just got a lot more high-tech and efficient.

This month, the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute Breast Program becomes the first in the state to offer women the option of having radiofrequency seeds, the size of a sesame seed, implanted in the breast before surgery so surgeons can better pinpoint the area to remove.

“This technology will be available to any woman with a non-palpable mass or high-risk lesion,” said Dr. Heather King, the breast specialist who will perform the first seed removals on June 27. “It not only reduces the amount of breast tissue we need to remove in surgery but it also leaves the woman with superior cosmetic results.”

Dr. King, who is director of breast surgery at Hartford Hospital, is working in conjunction with Dr. Diana James, a radiologist with Jefferson Radiology who will implant the seeds in four patients on June 12.

“This technology is a huge improvement to needle localization, which is what we currently offer,” said Dr. James. “The seed can be implanted weeks before surgery during a normal outpatient appointment, increasing the convenience for patients and serving as a much more comfortable, accurate procedure.”

While the procedure will be available at Hartford Hospital this month, Dr. King said it will soon be available to breast patients at Midstate Medical Center, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and Backus and Windham hospitals, all in the Hartford HealthCare system.

Up to this point, when a mass or lesion is identified through diagnostic imaging – ultrasound, mammogram or MRI – the patient first undergoes a core biopsy and a clip is placed to mark the site. Tissue removed during the biopsy is analyzed by pathologists to determine if it is suspicious tissue and must be surgically removed, Dr. King said.

If surgery is scheduled, the patient must arrive early in the morning to have a hookwire placed next to the clip. The wire can be seen coming out of the breast and can be uncomfortable for the patient. Surgery is then performed, removing suspicious breast tissue, the wire and the clip.

Using seed localization, the clip is placed during the biopsy procedure. If surgery is needed, the patient returns to radiology a few days before so the seed can be placed next to the clip. Nothing is extending out of the breast and there is no discomfort. In surgery, the clip, seed and targeted tissue are removed.

“The seed localization allows us to uncouple the procedures, making it more convenient for the patient to have the seed implanted. In addition, because the technology is so precise, we will later be able to take less tissue when we remove the seed,” Dr. King explained. “With the seed, we use a hand-held device in the operating room to give us specific direction on where to go and remove just that piece of tissue.”

There is research showing that the new seed technology is more accurate, requiring removal of less breast tissue and leaving a more intact breast. Dr. King also said the advancement helps women avoid the pain of an additional procedure to implant the wire, which can also move and lessen surgical accuracy.

Unlike other products, these seeds are not radioactive but made of a variety of metals to provide radiofrequency. There is no nickel included, though, for those with associated allergies.

Dr. King and other Hartford HealthCare breast surgeons employ the techniques of hidden-scar breast surgery, entering the breast through three discrete locations so when the surgical incisions heal, they are largely invisible.

“Our goal is to remove any tissue that threatens the health of the patient, but also to leave her with an aesthetically pleasing breast afterwards,” Dr. King said.

For more information on the breast cancer treatment at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, click here.

 


What's New

Pink in the Rink

Trinity Men’s Hockey, in Fundraiser Game, Sees Pink in the Rink

Unless women are playing, there’s not usually too much pink showing on the ice during a hockey game. But, on a recent Friday, the Trinity College men’s hockey team draped the Koeppel Community Sports Center in Hartford with the color for Pink in the Rink, a fundraising game that has...

Artificial Intelligence

Breast Radiologists Get a Second Set of Eyes: Artificial Intelligence

One fear about artificial intelligence generated by computers is that it will replace humans, but a trio of radiologists with Hartford HealthCare welcomed recent headlines about the technology in mammogram reading rooms. Google-funded researchers, in a study published in the journal Nature, asserted that AI could be more efficient than...

Head and Neck Cancer

ASCO Grant Recognizes Cancer Institute’s Efforts to Minimize Care Discrepancies

As the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute expands services across Connecticut, bringing specialists offering advanced care to locations closer to residents’ homes, national organizations have taken notice. The work to minimize discrepancies in care for minorities and those living in rural areas, also called healthcare disparity populations, has earned the Cancer...

Happy Couple

What’s Behind the Biggest One-Year Decline in Cancer Deaths?

The American Cancer Society recently announced that the cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2 percent from 2016 to 2017 — the largest single-year decline in cancer mortality ever reported. The cancer death rate declined by 29 percent from 1991 to 2017. Experts attributed the decline in part...

2020 Census

Why the Census Is a Healthcare Issue

By Jeffrey A. Flaks Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer and Sarah S. Lewis Hartford HealthCare Vice President, Health Equity Among the New Year’s resolutions that you’ve made (or maybe already broken), here’s one that should be easy to keep: Complete your U.S. Census form, and encourage everyone you...

Turkey & Red Cabbage Tortillas With Chipotle Sauce

Good-for-You Recipe: Turkey & Red Cabbage Tortillas With Chipotle Sauce

Here’s a colorful, flavorful recipe, courtesy of the American Cancer Society, that combines smoky chipotle pepper with lean ground turkey breast, red cabbage and fresh cilantro. Turkey & Red Cabbage Tortillas With Chipotle Sauce 4 Servings 8 corn tortillas 1 pound ground turkey breast 1 teaspoon ground chipotle, divided use...