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St Andrew’s embraces technology to make breast surgery easier

Breast cancer surgery is being made easier for patients at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital thanks to the arrival of new surgical guidance technology.
Dr Ben Green standing with Clinical Nurse Consultant Cath

Breast cancer surgery is being made easier for patients at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital thanks to the arrival of new surgical guidance technology.

Known as SCOUT, the technology is designed to accurately pinpoint the location of a lesion with an accuracy of +/- 1mm.

This wire free technology also eliminates the need for hook wires to be inserted on the day of surgery, a traditional step in the surgical process which can be both tedious and uncomfortable for patients.

St Andrew’s breast surgeon, Dr Ben Green, said the technology is all about accuracy and precision to deliver excellent outcomes and an improved experience for patients.

“The SCOUT works by using a transmitter which is inserted into the breast lesion via a needle” Dr Green explained.

“What’s unique about this particular technology is that the reflector can remain in place for weeks or months prior to surgery without interfering with other scans and imaging which may be required.

“Then, once we’re in the operating theatre, we can go straight to the location of the lump and remove it more effectively and with greater certainty,” he said.

For patients, the technology can provide a range of benefits including much shorter surgery time and dramatically reduced re-excision rates.

Patient Kim is one of only a handful of people to have had the older surgery with wires and surgery with the Scout.

“My first procedure was in 2012, the wire insertion was incredibly uncomfortable I had to hang upside down while the radiologist inserted the wires into the tumours,” Kim said.

“This procedure was far more comfortable and I am so happy this can be made available to other women.”

“By providing an accurate location of the tumour, we can operate with greater confidence to remove the cancer as well as the margins we need to collect around it.

“It can also mean less breast tissue being unnecessarily removed. Our goal is to preserve as much of the normal breast tissue as possible because this can mean less deformity in the breast which we know is important for cosmesis and body image along with overall wellbeing after surgery,” he said.

St Andrew’s breast care nurse, Catherine Gillam, said the technology is already having a positive impact on patients especially on the day of surgery.

“As breast care nurses, we are there every step of the way to make the experience of breast cancer easier for those we care for and that’s why we’re extremely excited about the arrival of this new technology at St Andrew’s. Patients can arrive ready for surgery with the transmitter already inserted making that already nerve-wracking day a lot more bearable,” Catherine said.

“Traditionally, patients would need to come into hospital very early on the day of their surgery to have hook wires inserted. Then begins the wait for surgery which for some can last hours. During that time, physically the hook wires can become quite sore, migrate and mentally it can be a challenging wait as nerves and fears begin to increase.

“To be able to remove that step in the process means the day of surgery is much calmer and more efficient, and while that might seem pretty simple, it means a lot for the experience of our patients,” she said.

For our more information about St Andrew’s Breast Care Service.