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Carroll first hospital in Maryland to offer new breast cancer surgery procedure

Carroll Hospital Center is the first hospital in Maryland to begin offering a popular new technique for breast cancer surgery that reduces patient discomfort while increasing surgical flexibility, according to Dr. Dona Hobart, breast surgeon and medical director of the hospital's Center for Breast Health.

Called seed localization, the technique involves implanting a small, signal-emitting "seed" next to small tumors in the breast, Hobart said, which a surgeon can then use to locate the tumor for excision in the operating room.

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"It's an advance which … simplifies things both for the patients and the surgeons," she said.

Hobart has performed the seed localization procedure on a handful of patients since October in preparation for announcing the technique as the new standard procedure for most breast cancer surgeries and the hospital.

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Typically, when a tumor is identified in a mammogram, a small titanium chip is implanted next to the growth during the biopsy, according to Hobart. Later, at the time of surgery, the surgeon would need a way to locate the tumor for excision, and she said this was previously accomplished by inserting a guide wire into the breast to meet up with the titanium chip.

"The patient … would check into the hospital and then they would truck across the parking lot to Advanced Radiology and radiology would put a wire into the breast," she said. "Studies have shown us that patients in this [new] procedure experience much less discomfort. You can imagine getting a wire inserted into the breast and going across the parking lot."

Seed localization replaces the wire with a tiny iodine seed that emits a signal the surgeon can detect with a hand-held scanner, according to Dr. Bertan Ozgun, chairman of radiology at Carroll Hospital Center, whose team handled the older guide-wire insertions and will now prepare the seed localization procedures. The seed can also be placed in the breast several days prior to the surgery via a mammogram or sonogram guided needle, he said, reducing stress and discomfort on the day of the actual surgery.

"The wire could be a little bit awkward, if you can imagine have a guide wire placed and waiting a few hours until you have surgery done," he said. "It really just makes the day a little less traumatic and a little shorter. They can get what they need done as an outpatient so they can get home sooner."

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Seed localization also frees the surgeon to make the best possible incision to remove a tumor, according to Hobart, rather than being tied to certain approaches because of the angle and location of the guide wire.

"It does let me make more precise and more cosmetic incisions, which is one of my concerns," she said. "I don't just want to take the cancer out, I want to take the cancer out and the patient not really notice I have been there."

Hobart began performing seed-localization-based breast cancer surgery in October but has steadily increased the number of procedures performed and is now training other Carroll Hospital Center breast surgeons in using the technique.

"I like to emphasize the team here at Carroll Hospital Center in conjunction with Advanced Radiology," Hobart said. "I was very interested in getting this up and running at my previous institution, and I did not get the institutional backing to do it. So I am very appreciative of the efforts and it did take a large team to get it done. We are excited."

Reach Staff Writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com.

More information

To learn more about seed localization breast surgery at Carroll Hospital Center, go to the website of the Center for Breast Health at http://www.carrollhospitalcenter.org/center-for-breast-health or call 410-871-7080.

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