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Radioactive Seed Localization

Innovative procedure benefits breast surgery patients

Sixty-four-year-old Sandra Redford didn’t hesitate one moment when breast surgeon Jamie Wagner, DO, offered her the opportunity to be the first patient at The University of Kansas Health System to undergo an innovative procedure as part of surgery to remove a breast tumor. 

“When Dr. Wagner told me it was more convenient, easier and more comfortable,” said Redford, “I didn’t even think twice about it.” 

Radioactive seed localization, or RSL, offers an alternative with multiple benefits over traditional wire localization for tumors that are too small to be felt. In the traditional method, a radiologist – using mammographic guidance – placed a wire into the breast to mark the tumor’s location. Wires were placed a couple of hours before surgery. The patient then traveled to the surgical facility, where she waited for a surgeon to complete her procedure. 

RSL is a significant advancement for localizing tumors in the breast. “The benefits for patients and future treatments are incredible,” said Dr. Wagner. “It’s exciting to be at an institution that is at the forefront for offering this to patients.”

Sandra Redford didn't hesitate when offered the opportunity to be the first patient at The University of Kansas Hospital to undergo radioactive seed localization, a procedure that offers improved comfort and flexibility to patients.

The University of Kansas Health System is the first in the region to offer this advanced procedure to patients with breast tumors. During the procedure, a specially trained radiologist numbs the breast tissue and inserts a tiny seed approximately 5mm long into the tissue. The seed’s thickness is similar to that of the lead in a mechanical pencil. The small seed emits a trace amount of radiation, detected by equipment in the operating room, to show surgeons the precise location of the tumor. 

During surgery, doctors remove both the tumor and the seed. Breast seeds can be placed several days before surgery, giving patients greater comfort and flexibility in scheduling their procedures. 

Redford said the benefits of RSL are what she expected. “Dr. Wagner was able to tell exactly where my tumor was, so there was less risk of damaging healthy tissue,” Redford explained. “The insertion of the seed wasn’t unpleasant at all. When it was done, which only took a few minutes, I went home and prepared for surgery in two days. It was a very good experience!”

As a nurse herself, Redford said she felt blessed to find The University of Kansas Health System and Dr. Wagner. “The professionalism and skill of Dr. Wagner and the whole staff are outstanding,” she said. “I was treated as an individual, even though they see many cases like mine every day.”

Redford’s tumor results were benign, but she remains committed to following through on recommendations for regular mammograms and early detection examinations.