Three University of Wisconsin–Madison innovators have invented a better way for surgeons to locate tumors during lumpectomies for breast cancer.

The new system, developed by a startup called Elucent Medical, is in use at SSM Health Dean Medical Group in Madison and at UW Health. The company expects to be in a total of about 15 hospital systems by the end of January.

The new system exploits technological advances to yield benefits in patient stress, and the efficiency and efficacy of surgery.

Currently, when doctors biopsy a suspicious breast lesion, they leave behind a small metal clip to mark the location. If the patient needs breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy), this clip alone does not guide the doctor back to the biopsy site.

Instead, on the day of surgery, a radiologist will insert a hook wire through the skin down to the biopsy clip. This hook wire protrudes from the skin, and provides a visible road map to the lesion. The surgeon makes an incision in the skin, and follows along the wire to the target to remove the marker, wire and lesion.

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