Northwell fields new breast-surgery tracker

Northwell patient Ellen Gallin-Procida.

The Northwell Health Cancer Institute has begun use of a tiny tracking device, just cleared by the FDA, that pinpoints tumors in breast surgeries.

The system, called the SAVI SCOUT, uses a reflector disk, implanted before surgery, that steers surgeons during lumpectomy and biopsy procedures. Until now, doctors had to thread a wire into the breast, an uncomfortable and time-consuming procedure that required patients to show up hours before their scheduled surgery.

“Breast cancer surgery or biopsy can be physically and emotionally distressing for women,” said Karen Kostroff, chief of breast surgery at Northwell.  “The SCOUT resolves one of the most difficult aspects of breast conservation surgery by eliminating the need to place a wire inside the breast tissue to locate a tumor.”

The device uses non-radioactive, micro-impulse radar technology to provide real-time surgical guidance during breast surgery. Placed up to seven days before surgery by a radiologist, the half inch-sized reflector is used in conjunction with a hand-held scanner to strategically plan the incision, minimizing the amount of tissue removed during surgery and ensuring better cosmetic outcomes.

Ellen Gallin-Procida, a patient of Kostroff’s for the last five years, underwent three breast-conserving surgeries using the wire localization technique. She was one of the first patients at Northwell’s Cancer Institute to experience the wireless, radar system during a breast biopsy.

Gallin-Procida, a New York City educator, has received several breast biopsies because she has a condition that may put her at a higher-than-average risk for getting breast cancer at some point in the future.

“You’re already under stress and frightened getting a breast biopsy,” Gallin-Procida said. “It’s uncomfortable to sit for a long time with a wire sticking out of your breast even though it’s covered in gauze. For my recent biopsy, I was checked in for surgery with the reflector having already been inserted days earlier.

“This time I had a lot less anxiety and discomfort before surgery without a wire sticking out of me.”

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