IU Health Arnett Hospital improving breast cancer surgery with new technology

IU Health Arnett Hospital is providing breast cancer patients a better surgery experience through a device called the Savi Scout Wireless Localizer.

Posted: May 14, 2021 9:10 AM
Updated: May 14, 2021 10:21 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- IU Health Arnett Hospital is introducing a new technology that's improving the surgery experience for breast cancer patients. It's called the Savi Scout Wireless localizer.

"Our number one goal in medicine is to improve patient care and the patient experience," said Dr. Luke Gerges, Director of the Breast Cancer Center at IU Health Arnett.

The Savi Scout has two parts, a reflector, and a probe. The reflector is about the size of a grain of rice. A breast cancer doctor will insert the reflector into the patient's breast tissue where the cancer cells or tumor lies. Then on the day of surgery, surgeons will use a probe to help locate the reflector. The probe is audible and essentially works like a magnet, the closer it gets to the reflector the faster it beeps.

"Savi Scout allows us to be more precise and accurate in how we are able to localize tumors that are non-palpable," said Dr. Sidney Bruce, a general surgeon with IU Health Arnett. "We use a little handheld device (probe) that can give us precision within one millimeter of accuracy."

Bruce said this is a big improvement from the former process they'd go through when removing breast cancer. Before the Savi Scout, doctors would poke a long, thin medical wire through the breast tissue into the cancer area. The wire sticks out of the skin so surgeons could easily see the area they'd need to operate on.

"The challenge with a wire is a wire can come in from multiple angles and it may not be optimized for where we want to place our incision and we might have to go through additional healthy breast tissue in order to get to the area of concern," said Bruce. "The benefit of breast-conserving therapy is that it allows these women to keep their breasts which is a part of them and it's important for them."

Bruce said for patients, the wire was not only uncomfortable but inconvenient. Because the Savi Scout reflector is only inside the body, patients can get it inserted days or weeks before surgery. With the wire procedure, patients had to go from getting it implanted then straight to surgery.

"Perhaps the biggest benefit to Savi Scout is that it avoids the whole wire placement the day of surgery. The day of surgery is already very anxiety-provoking and can cause a lot of stress," said Bruce.

The hospital has used the Savi Scout on more than 20 patients so far. IU Health Arnett is currently the only hospital here locally offering this service.

"We're happy and fortunate and blessed that we were in a position to be the first in the west-central region to offer this technology," said Gerges. "Any way we can make their treatment easier that's the goal."

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