New Technology Improves Breast Surgery Experience

Dr. Farrugia, radiology team using radiofrequency tags to prep for breast cancer surgery

New technology available at Centegra will improve the quality of life for women who are preparing for breast cancer surgery.

Centegra Physician Care breast surgeon Daniel J Farrugia, MD, PhD, in collaboration with the Centegra Gavers Breast Center Radiology team, now implants a miniature radiofrequency tag to mark the location of the tissue that will be removed during a lumpectomy or biopsy. This tiny tag can be placed up to 30 days before the surgical procedure, providing a far better patient experience than previous techniques to locate the tissue that should be removed.

In the past, surgeons inserted either radioactive seeds or wires into a woman’s breast to mark the surgical site. Not only does this new technology eliminate the need to use radioactive material, it also eliminates the discomfort a woman may experience as she waits for surgery with a wire protruding from her breast. Sometimes, the wire dislodges, which can mean surgery has to be delayed or canceled, producing more anxiety for the patient.

“The radiofrequency tag provides the precision we need without the drawbacks of other localization techniques,” Dr. Farrugia said.

“It helps us reduce the anxiety women feel when they are preparing for a procedure and prevents the need to come early to the hospital to have the wire placed the day of surgery.”

To mark the location for surgery, Dr. Farrugia and the breast radiologist use ultrasound or X-ray and a small probe to guide the radiofrequency tag to the correct location. At the time of the surgery, he uses a small handheld probe to more accurately locate the tag, which is removed along with the tissue.

“This new technology helps the patient by making an already stressful situation a little bit easier for everyone involved,” Dr. Farrugia said.