Use of Needle (wire) Localization

This procedure is performed when your breast cancer can be seen on a mammogram but cannot be felt. It is done in radiology before your surgery.

Step I - Radiology: To Find the Breast Cancer

In either a sitting or standing position, your breast will be positioned for a mammogram so that the exact location of the breast cancer can be found. Once the area has been accurately found, the radiologist will numb your breast with a local anesthetic. A needle is then inserted and a small wire is threaded through the needle so that the tip of the needle is near the abnormal area. Accurate placement of the wire is checked by mammogram and then the wire is securely taped in place and covered to prevent position changes. This part of the procedure may take from one to one and one half hours; it is usually scheduled a minimum of two hours before surgery.

Most women report no pain, but sensations of pressure and pulling. Some women feel faint or dizzy. If you have any unusual symptoms or sensations, tell the technologist (the person positioning you for the mammogram) or radiologist (the doctor). The staff can best help you if they are aware of how you are feeling.

Step II - Surgery: To Remove the Abnormal Tissue

You will be brought by wheelchair from radiology, where the wire was inserted, to surgery. Family and/or friend(s) may be with you before and after the wire localization, but not during the procedure. You will be given the anesthesia that you and your physician have discussed. The surgeon uses the wire to locate the breast cancer and performs the surgery you have discussed. The specimen, once removed from the breast, is then sent to radiology to be viewed to confirm that the targeted tissue is in the specimen and has been removed from the breast.