Radioactive Seed Localization Patient Preps

Radioactive seed localization (RSL) can help your surgeon precisely locate and surgically remove your breast tumor, while helping to spare healthy tissue. A tiny metal seed, about the size of a sesame seed, is implanted into the abnormal breast tissue. The implant contains a small amount of radiation, which your breast surgeon can detect during surgery to precisely pinpoint the abnormal tissue.

The expert breast imaging team at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center is helping to pioneer the use of RSL for breast cancer surgery.

RSL has several advantages, including:

  • RSL enables radiologists to pinpoint areas of concern that appear on your imaging studies, so your surgeon can remove the abnormal tissue.
  • RSL combines advanced imaging with precise tumor localization to remove breast tumors with as little disturbance to surrounding healthy breast tissue as possible.

Below: the size of an RSL seed compared to a finger.

Before You Arrive

  •  Sometime before your scheduled breast surgery, you will have your RSL procedure.
  • Please eat something before you arrive.
  • Take all your regular medicine.
  • Please bring a list of all medications you take, as well as their doses.
  • We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Please consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
  • Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit.
  • Directions and Parking

After Arriving

  • Upon arrival, the Technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have.
  • After taking mammography or ultrasound images of your breast to confirm the location of the abnormal tissue for the RSL implant, the Radiologist will numb the area of your breast with a local anesthetic so you will feel no pain.
  • The Radiologist will insert a localization needle, containing the radioactive seed, into your breast. Images are taken to confirm the position of the needle before the Radiologist removes the needle, leaving the radioactive seed in place.
  • A last mammogram is taken to confirm the placement of the seed.
  • The procedure will take about 30 – 60 minutes.

After Your Procedure

  • You may resume normal activities since the seed has a very low radioactivity which is not a hazard to you or others. Even that small amount decreases with distance. There is almost no radiation 3 feet from the implant site. Radiation exposure also depends on time. You will not harm anyone if you hug, kiss or shake hands. Items you touch, people you encounter and clothes you wear will not become radioactive.
  • You will have your scheduled surgery after the RSL procedure.
  • During surgery, your surgeon will use a handheld device to detect the radioactivity emitted by the seed to precisely locate the tumor. The surgeon can then precisely remove the breast tumor and the radioactive seed.

For specific questions about the seeds, please contact Radiation Safety at (310) 423-4336.