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Infrared radar technology enhances breast surgery experience

Rick Bellantoni and Lydia King, both clinical materials coordinators, with Alyssa Gillego, MD
Rick Bellantoni and Lydia King, both clinical materials coordinators, with Alyssa Gillego, MD, breast surgeon, display the Savi Scout system that is improving the patient experience. (This photograph was taken before the COVID-19 crisis.)

Traditionally patients undergoing breast surgery have a wire inserted into the breast under local anesthesia the morning of surgery to allow the surgeon to precisely target the biopsy area. Greenwich Hospital now offers patients wire-free localization of breast lesions using Savi Scout technology, which reduces anxiety, time in the hospital, and discomfort.

The Savi Scout system provides an alternative approach that uses radar to detect a small infrared reflector the size of a grain of rice. Radiologists can insert the tiny reflector into the breast using a local anesthetic days, weeks or months before a lumpectomy or biopsy. Patients cannot feel the device once placed and can resume normal activity immediately.

With the use of this infrared technology, patients can go straight to the operating room the day of their surgery. The reflector emits a signal enabling the surgeon to use a handheld probe to precisely pinpoint the localized area. An X-ray of the biopsy sample read by the radiologist during surgery confirms retrieval of the target lesion and the reflector.

"Patients often experience less anxiety and discomfort on the day of surgery because of the increased convenience and minimal wait time. And unlike radiation seeds, another option, patients and healthcare workers aren’t exposed to any radiation," said Barbara Ward, MD, medical director of the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Greenwich.