Breast Care Services
Breast Seed Localisation
What is seed localisation?
Breast localisation is a procedure used when an area of breast tissue needs to be removed but cannot be felt by examination and the surgeon needs a guide to ensure they remove the correct piece of tissue. The localiser seed is a tiny radiofrequency device (smaller than a grain of rice) that can be inserted into the breast tissue. This is done by the Radiology team (a doctor or other trained professional who specializes in X-ray) while you have an ultrasound scan or mammogram. The procedure can be done up to 30 days prior to your surgery. You will need to attend the Breast Screening Unit as an outpatient.
What are the benefits of using the localising seed?
Localiser seed insertion allows accurate identification of the area to be removed. The seed can be placed in the breast several days before surgery which will reduce stress on the day of the operation.
What are the alternatives to seed localisation?
The alternative method to this procedure is a guidewire procedure which involves inserting a small fine wire into your breast using ultrasound or a mammogram. The wire will then be a guide for the surgeon when he removes the tissue. This would need to be done on the day of your surgery. Patients sometimes find the guidewire uncomfortable and this procedure can increase anxiety on the day of surgery.
What does the procedure involve?
The seed is inserted by a radiologist or other qualified member of the Breast team (a radiographer). The procedure is similar to the breast core needle biopsy you will have had to your breast that confirmed your diagnosis. You will attend the Breast Unit and have an ultrasound scan or mammogram of your breast to locate the cancer. The radiologist will then inject a local anaesthetic into your breast. This may sting for a few seconds but will numb your breast quickly. The radiologist will then use a small thin needle to place the seed into the area of cancer that needs removing. You may feel some pressure in your breast during the procedure but this is not normally painful. If you do feel any pain, please make the staff aware so that more local anaesthetic can be given. You will not be able to feel the seed once it is inserted and you can continue with your normal activities. A small dressing will be placed over the puncture site. The procedure will usually take about 30 minutes.
What are the risks of seed localisation?
You may have some mild discomfort and bruising. If you do have discomfort or pain then you can take your regular pain relief (but avoid aspirin). You may have a small amount of bleeding on your dressing. This is normal. If you have any heavy bleeding that soaks through your dressing apply firm pressure. If this continues and you are concerned you can contact your Breast Care nurse.
What happens after the seed localisation?
You can remove the dressing after 24 hours. You can return to work and most activities the following day. Avoid heavy lifting for 24 hours. You may shower the following day but do not soak in a bath or go into a swimming pool for 48 hours. It is recommended that you wear a comfortable supportive bra for 24 hours.
What happens during surgery?
During surgery, while you are asleep under general anaesthetic, the surgeon will use a highly sensitive detector to identify the seed and location of the breast tissue that needs to be removed. The surgeon will then proceed with your surgery. The seed will be removed during surgery.
Who do I contact if I have any concerns?
If you have any concerns, Monday to Friday you can contact your breast care nurse. You will have their contact number in your patient information file and you will also have their contact card.
If you have any problems out of hours or at weekends telephone 111 (NHS non-emergency contact number).
The Recite feature on this website attempts to provide digital accessibility and translation support. If you would like to make a request for a leaflet to be produced in a different format please see our PALS contact page in order to contact the team and make a request. If you require a translation please see our translation information page. ESNEFT are actively attempting to achieve accessibility regulation compliance under the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
© East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, 2021.
All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced in whole, or in part,
without the permission of the copyright owner.