New device 'game changer' in breast lump removal

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At the age of 25, Hailee Carroll says she's already had four breast lumps surgically removed.

"I've had three procedures in the last four years," Carroll said.

Carroll has a family history of breast cancer. Both her grandmother and great aunt are both survivors.

For the first two procedures, wires were placed into Carroll 's breast pinpointing and guiding surgeons to the lumps. 

Carroll says, that process didn't go smoothly, "The wire localization took a very long time.  You couldn't move while you had the wire in place and it hurt to put the wire in.  The lidocaine wore off and I had to have another dose," she explains.   

Five months ago, with her last procedure, Carroll's doctor tried something new.  It's called SAVI SCOUT .

USF health's Dr. Cox was not only the first to use this device in a patient, he helped develop it.

"It's a game changer. It could affect the lives of literally millions of women," Dr. Cox smiles.

Instead of bulky wires that stick out of the breast, SAVI SCOUT requires a tiny incision, under local anesthesia. Then the rice grain sized reflector is basically injected into the breast through a large 14 gauge needle. The procedure takes only about 10 minutes. 

Once in the breast, a hand piece is used to detect its location. It uses infrared light that bounces off the implant. Although there is no radiation involved, the beeping sounds emitted by the device are similar to a Geiger counter. As the hand piece gets closer to the implant, beeping sounds become more frequent and a digital counter simultaneously displays that number. 

Dr. Cox says he can usually find the reflector easily.

"That's the advantage in the breast because it's compressible - so even if it's at the bottom you'd be able to press down within a millimeter of where it is," he explained.

Unlike wires that must be inserted in the hospital just before surgery, SAVI SCOUT can be placed in the doctor’s office up to a month in advance. A benefit that Dr. Cox says will likely offset its cost that's usually covered by insurance.

"Many times with wire localizations you're delayed between a half an hour and two hours. One half an hour of delayed time in the operating room is between two and five thousand dollars," Dr. Cox states.

Carroll's device was placed three days before her surgery.   

"With the SAVI SCOUT it was quick easy, they used the lidocaine, made a quick incision, placed it.  I went back to work," she recalls. "I had the SAVI SCOUT in place that whole weekend. I have two small children and I could still pick them up."