Skip to Content

Radioactive Seed Localization

If you need breast cancer surgery, radioactive seed localization (RSL) can help your surgeon precisely locate and remove your breast tumor, while helping to spare healthy tissue.

Experts at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program are pioneering the use of RSL for breast cancer surgery because it:

  • Enables radiologists to pinpoint areas of concern that appear on your mammogram, so your surgeon can remove the abnormal tissue.
  • Combines advanced imaging with precise tumor localization to remove breast tumors with little disturbance to surrounding healthy breast tissue. 

What Can I Expect During My RSL Procedure?

One to five days before your scheduled breast surgery, you will have your RSL procedure at the Magee-Womens Breast Center.

After taking mammography or ultrasound images of your breast to confirm the location of the abnormal tissue for the radioactive seed implant, the radiologist will:

  1. Numb the area of your breast with a local anesthetic.
  2. Insert a localization needle, containing the radioactive seed, into your breast.
  3. Take more images to confirm the position of the needle. 
  4. Withdraw the needle, leaving the radioactive seed behind.
  5. Take one last mammogram image to confirm the placement of the seed.

What Can I Expect After MY RSL Procedure

The low radioactivity of the seed is not a hazard to you or others around you, so you can resume normal activities. 

You will have your scheduled surgery up to five days after the RSL procedure.

During surgery, your surgeon will:

  • Use a handheld device that detects the radioactivity emitted by the seed to precisely identify the location of your tumor.
  • Remove your breast tumor and the radioactive seed.