Wire localisation procedure

What is wire localisation of the breast?

When you attended the breast clinic an abnormal area was found in one of your breasts. You will have already had a biopsy that shows an area that needs to be removed for further diagnosis and treatment.

This abnormal area of breast tissue can be seen either on the mammogram pictures or by ultrasound, but cannot be easily felt by the surgeon. The radiologist will use the mammogram or ultrasound machine to pinpoint this area of tissue by inserting a wire into the breast so that the surgeon can remove the abnormality accurately.

How is it done?

You will be asked to attend the breast clinic before your forthcoming surgery or the day before your surgery is scheduled.

Mammogram Localisation:

Using the mammography machine, you will be asked to either to sit or lie down while you are having the wire inserted. The compressed paddle from the mammography machine is used during the localisation, this helps prevent movement as it is important that you remain very still during the procedure. The radiologist will use the mammogram images taken to identify the abnormality. Once the images have identified this area, they will inject the skin over the area, using local anaesthetic (this can sting a little). When this area of your breast is numb, a needle with the wire inside will be passed through breast tissue into the abnormality. The needle will be removed by the radiologist, leaving the wire in place. The wire is difficult to move as it has a small hook on the end, however, once the wire is positioned every care must be taken not to knock the breast. The compression paddle will be removed.

The wire end is left out of the breast but it will be coiled under a dressing, applied by the radiographer. Two final mammogram pictures are taken to ensure that that the wire is in the correct position. Keeping the wire in your breast for a few hours prior to surgery is not painful.

Ultrasound Localisation:

Using the ultrasound machine, you will be lying down on the couch. The radiologist will then scan the area and accurately locate the abnormality within the breast tissue. In a similar way to the mammogram localisation, the breast will be numbed with local anaesthetic and then the needle containing the wire will be positioned within the breast and abnormality. The needle will then be removed leaving the wire in place. Part of the wire will be visible and a secure dressing will then be applied.
The radiologist may also draw the exact area using a surgical marker pen to aid the surgeon.

Two mammograms will then be taken to confirm positioning of the wire. The local anaesthetic will ensure that any discomfort you might feel will be kept to a minimum throughout the full examination. A radiographer will also be with you during the localisation, in case you have any worries.

Keeping the wire in your breast for a few hours prior to surgery is not painful.

All wires are removed during the surgical procedure.

After the procedure

You will need to keep the area and dressing dry, so we do not recommend showering after this procedure.

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