Radioactive Seed Localization

Imaging physicians have been performing localizations as a way to use medical imaging to precisely mark the internal location of tissue which needs to be removed. A surgeon can then use this to accurately guide them in to a lesion.

When performing traditional breast localization, an imaging physician uses amammogram or ultrasound to find a lesion, and then, under image guidance, places one end of a very thin wire in  it. The surgeon then follows this wire right to the tissue.

Today, a patient and their surgeon can choose a different technology to mark the site of a lesion. Radioactive Seed Localization (RSL) is an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure in which a radiologist uses medical imaging to place a very small, slightly radioactive metal seed into abnormal tissue. The surgeon can then detect this seed and quickly and accurately locate and remove the tissue around it.

Below: The size of an RSL seed compared to a dime.

Some of the benefits of RSL include:

  • The marking of the lesion is highly accurate, which allows a surgeon to minimize damage to nearby tissue.
  • Many women find that seed localization is less painful than alternative localization procedures.
  • The seed is entirely internal and can remain inside the breast for several days prior to surgery. This makes scheduling easier and more convenient for the patient, and may reduce delays the day of the surgery.

Above: images of a breast with a RSL seed circled.

  • Using RSL, the imaging physician marks the precise location of the lesion, and the surgeon can then choose the path of surgery.  
  • In addition, the freedom RSL gives the surgeon allows them to more carefully consider scar placement and minimization.

What about the radiation?

The radiation emitted by the RSL seed is minimal, providing only enough of a signal for the surgeon to accurately detect the tissue to be removed. In addition, the seed is completely removed by the surgeon during the tissue removal; it is only in place long enough for the surgeon to make use of it.

RSL is a procedure which has been in use for over a decade; studies show that it is both safe and effective.

If you are a patient with questions about this procedure, please call: 310-423-4336.