Technology targeting breast tissue reduces discomfort

New procedure simplifies breast surgery
January 20th, 2020

When Julie Singels found out she had to have yet another surgical procedure to check for breast cancer, she opted for new technology that allows surgeons to more accurately pinpoint lesions prior to surgery.

Julie Singles, who said a new procedure that helps in targeting breast tissue is much better than the old way, with her dogs.
Julie Singels at home with her dogs. Photo courtesy of Julie Singels.

Her breast surgeon, Dr. Michelle DeWing, told her about SAVI SCOUT which involves inserting a wireless localization reflector into the breast at the affected area. It is placed using a needle and requires no stitches. Later, “a probe picks up the signal so we can find it again,” according to DeWing.

Targeting breast lesions

“When someone has an abnormality on a mammogram, you have to find a way to take it out,” said DeWing.  “When this newer technique came along, (we found) it’s much more convenient for patients.”

“I was in and out in half an hour,” Singels said. “Then I scheduled my surgery for another day. I chose 8 a.m. so I’d be the first surgery of the day.”

The procedure is done on an outpatient basis.

“They’re up and about, doing normal stuff – I’ve had people go back to work the next day,” DeWing said.

Surgery can be scheduled at the patient’s convenience any time, usually within 30 days of implanting the SCOUT. But if the patient has to have chemotherapy, the implant can stay for up to four months.

“It really gives us flexibility,” DeWing said.

ABOUT THE SAVI SCOUT:

The SAVI SCOUT surgical guidance system is an innovative technology that allows breast surgeons at UCHealth Memorial Hospital to more accurately pinpoint lesions prior to surgery. The sophisticated technology helps surgeons with:

  • Tumor localization.
  • Surgical planning.
  • Surgical guidance.
  • Confirmation of the tissue to be removed.

The SAVI SCOUT surgical guidance system uses no radiation and no wires. Instead, a small staple-sized device (reflector) is placed in the tissue target prior to surgery. The SAVI SCOUT uses radar technology to guide the surgeon in precisely targeting breast tissue during a lumpectomy or excisional biopsy procedure in order to plan the incision and direct surgery. This system offers many advantages to patients, including:

  • Added comfort during procedure since no invasive guide wires are used.
  • Decreased wait times between radiology and surgery.
  • Easier localization of the breast tumor.
  • Enhanced surgical success of targeted tumors.
  • FDA approved for targeting other non-breast tissues, including lymph nodes and other body parts.
  • Fewer surgical delays.
  • Improved patient satisfaction and well-being.

SAVI SCOUT is currently available to patients who plan to have surgery at UCHealth Breast Surgical Clinic – Memorial Hospital

During the intervening time, “I didn’t know it was there at all,” Singels said.

And now she knows she’s OK.

“I’ve been fortunate that both times it’s been benign, but I had this tissue that appeared to be hiding possible cancer,” she said. “They’re called radial scars. The problem is, even when they do a biopsy by ultrasound, they are not 100 percent convinced” of whether or not there is cancer.

“Some of these spots can be so small, we can’t be sure” without excising the suspicious cells, DeWing said.

Compared to her experience just three years ago, Singels said this one was “amazingly different.”

The first time, she had a traditional wire localization in which a wire is placed and the wire pokes out of the skin. That procedure is often uncomfortable and requires a patient to restrict movement, and refrain from food and water while waiting for surgery to start.

This time around, “everything went very smoothly.”

Singels likes the fact that almost all the staff at the breast center are women – from nurses to radiologists to the surgeons. “They’re very attentive and empathetic,” she said. “And Dr. Dewing is just amazing.”

With a family history of breast cancer, she doesn’t hesitate to get the best medical attention. At 54, she knows her risk goes up as she ages. For anyone who has to have a similar surgical procedure, she’d recommend it in a heartbeat.

“It’s so much better than before.”

About the author

Linda DuVal is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs and a regular contributor to UCHealth Today. She has written travel articles for major U.S. newspapers and national, regional and local magazines. She spent 32 years as an award-winning writer, reporter and editor for The Gazette in Colorado Springs.