Radioactive Seed and Wire Localization - PIH Health

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Published on March 12, 2015

New Technique Increases Accuracy of Removing Abnormal Breast Tissue

Radioactive Seed and Wire Localization

PIH Health is one of the first facilities in California to offer Radioactive Seed Localization (RSL), a procedure that helps increase surgical accuracy by targeting the location of abnormal breast tissue that needs to be removed. As mammographic technology has advanced, it has become easier to diagnose early stage breast cancer. While the goal is to diagnose breast cancer when it’s most treatable, it’s a challenge to locate and remove nonpalpable abnormal breast tissue in the early stages.

Radioactive Seed Localization (RSL)

With RSL, the abnormal tissue is located using mammography or ultrasound. A radiologist will provide a local anesthetic to numb the area and then place a very low-energy radioactive seed directly into the abnormal tissue or tumor.  It’s important to note that the seed has very little radioactivity and is not dangerous to the patient or anyone around her.  Once the seed is in place, a mammogram will be performed to show its exact location.

During surgery, the surgeon will use a handheld device that detects radioactivity to locate the seed and the abnormal breast tissue. The tissue can then be removed, along with the seed, and no more radioactivity is left in the body. The radioactive seed can be implanted up to five days before surgery.

After the surgeon removes the abnormal tissue using either the implanted seed or wire, the tissue is further reviewed using either mammography and/or sonography imaging. The radiologist and the surgeon then work together to confirm that all of the abnormal tissue has been removed.

Most patients experience minimal or no discomfort when the radioactive seed or wire is implanted. The radiologist and surgeon work together to determine if a patient is a candidate for RSL prior to the start of treatment. Learn more about breast health and the comprehensive treatment options available to patients diagnosed with cancer.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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