Wire Localization for Surgery

Wire localization is a procedure used to guide the surgeon to the location of a breast mass too small or vague to feel accurately with the hand but needs to be removed and tested. The procedure is completed the morning of breast biopsy surgery.

For this procedure, local anesthetic is applied to minimize pain. A small needle is inserted to locate the mass to be biopsied, guided by X-ray, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. Once the area of concern is pinpointed, a small amount of blue dye is injected to temporarily mark the spot, and a wire is anchored into the tissue. The blue dye and wire will be used as a road map by the surgeon to locate and remove the mass. Lastly, additional images of the breast are captured to document for the surgeon the relationship of the wire to the mass to be biopsied. Each procedure takes between 30 and 45 minutes. After the procedure is completed, patients are transported to the surgical waiting area.

Some breast abnormalities are hard to detect with other simpler imaging technologies. Stanford is one of the few sites that offers MRI-guided wire localization. When an MRI is used to locate a difficult to detect mass in the breast, our experts again use the MRI in our wire localization preparation for biopsy surgery. When requested by the surgeon, Stanford also performs bracket wire localizations to mark out larger irregularly shaped abnormalities.