We are very pleased to be able to offer this new technology to our patients. LewisGale Hospital Montgomery is only the second hospital in Virginia to offer this procedure.

Many breast tumors, whether benign or malignant, are too small to be felt on breast examination. This is not a bad thing – the smaller a cancer is, the more likely it is to be cured with surgery and the less other treatment is needed. But, if we can’t feel a tumor, how can we know where it is to remove it? The area must be localized, or pinpointed with some type of marker placed by ultrasound or mammogram guidance.

The traditional method for localizing the area in question has been a wire inserted into the breast before surgery. It is placed in the morning and left hanging out of the skin until it is removed during surgery later that morning or afternoon. However, a new technique is available to localize these lesions.

This method involves placing a small, slightly radioactive seed into the tumor under radiologic guidance. The exact location of the seed in the breast can then be determined from outside the skin using a gamma counter (a special machine that detects radiation similar to a Geiger counter). This technique has great advantages for patients because the seed can be placed anytime several days before surgery, thereby making the day of surgery shorter. There is also no wire hanging out of the skin, which could be uncomfortable or be dislodged before surgery.

From a surgeon’s standpoint, it is much easier to tell exactly where the tumor is when the gamma counter can see the seed from outside the breast instead of having to follow a wire within the breast tissue.

Jolene Henshaw, MD
LewisGale Physicians
General Surgery & Breast Surgery
809 Davis Street, Suite 1
Blacksburg, VA 24060