New tool eliminating need for multiple, painful breast surgeries

Emily Jaceks
October 10, 2018 06:53 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A machine is revolutionizing the way breast surgeries are done.

“So this device is a MarginProbe,” Dr. Calvin Ridgeway, Medical Director of the Lovelace Breast Center said. “So with the use of the device, we're able to get clear margins on the first surgery about 96 percent of the time,” Dr. Ridgeway said.

Clear margins mean that no cancerous tissue has been left behind, something Dr. Ridgeway is revolutionizing the way lumpectomies are being performed, nearly eliminating the need for painful trips to the operating room.

New tool eliminating need for multiple, painful breast surgeries
“And when we put the device on the tumor, it will either give us a negative reading, in the blue, or if we see a positive reading, in the red, we know that we need to go back to that surface of the lumpectomy cavity and take out more tissue there," Dr. Ridgeway said.

In the past, surgeons had to use their best guess to remove a lump and feel the tumor, or x-ray the specimen, and hope they got it all. But that proved to be woefully inaccurate.

“Across the country, about 20 to 30 percent of patients will require a second operation to clear up their lumpectomy site,” Dr. Ridgeway said.

But nothing's left to chance with this machine.

“Cancer cells and normal breast tissue cells have different electrical properties, so this device is able to measure that difference and see if it has a cancerous type electrical signal or a normal tissue type signal,’ Dr. Ridgeway said.

Patients are not only able to save more of their breast, but they're also able to avoid long bouts of agonizing radiation.

“If we are confident we have negative margins, then we're confident giving that one dose of radiation, and then when they wake up they've just had that one dose and they’re finished,” Dr. Ridgeway said.

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