Breast cancer surgeons routinely face a dilemma: how to find tumors they cannot feel. Before going into the operating room they must use some method to locate them. Currently, the method they use requires a radiologist to insert a device into the woman’s breast. The insert targets the clip that was placed during her biopsy and is placed just prior to surgery, leaving a wire protruding from her breast for the surgeon to follow. The surgeon removes the tumor, device and wire during breast surgery. A new antenna-like device helps surgeons find the tumor they cannot feel and, because it leaves no protruding wires, it also makes surgery easier for women and their breast surgery team.
The new device, called SAVI Scout, is made by Cianna Medical, Inc. and is approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Breast surgeons Stephanie Fine, MD, and Anna Voltura, MD, have started using the device at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center. Like the anti-theft radio frequency tags used in stores, the device acts like an antenna and responds to infrared radio signals. “It does not involve any radioactivity, like the other alternative method to wire localization,” says Fine, “so it does not require nuclear regulatory rules to be in place.”
For the radiologist, inserting the SAVI Scout device is similar to inserting the wired device. For the surgeon, finding the tissue to remove is as easy as turning the device on using a hand-held tool that sends an infrared signal. But for the woman, the SAVI Scout gives her the freedom to go home. “They have nothing protruding externally,” Fine says. “It’s more comfortable and less anxiety-producing. And they can schedule this ‘finder device’ as a separate procedure.” The device can be inserted up to a week before breast cancer surgery.
Completing the insertion procedure well before the surgery allows radiologists to place the device without the risk of delaying surgery. This enables the surgeons to work more efficiently through their operating room procedures on the day of surgery, resulting in fewer delays for their later patients. But best of all, the women and their families can go home between the procedures; they have more time to rest for and relax after their procedures. “We haven’t had any issues,” Fine says of the device. “We are really excited by it.”