North York General first hospital in GTA to provide radioactive seed localization

TORONTO, April 9, 2015 – Today, surgeons at North York General Hospital (NYGH) removed a patient's abnormal breast tissue with the aid of a radioactive seed. “At North York General we pursue excellence in everything we do, and that includes providing our patients with the latest innovations in care, like radioactive seed localization,” says Tim Rutledge, President and CEO, North York General Hospital. “This leading-edge technology ensures patients receive the most accurate surgical care and it is a much more comfortable and convenient procedure for patients – improving their overall experience.”

“Radioactive seed localization helps surgeons pinpoint and more precisely remove abnormal breast tissue, like early-stage breast cancers, with the best possible accuracy,” says Dr. Nancy Down, Medical Director, Breast Integrated Care Collaborative and Division Head, General Surgery, North York General Hospital. “These are areas of abnormal tissue that can be seen on a mammogram or breast ultrasound, but are too small to identify during a physical exam.”

“During an RSL, a radiologist injects a very tiny seed into the breast, to mark the precise location of the abnormal breast tissue,” says Dr. Susan Armstrong, Clinical Director, Breast Imagining, North York General Hospital. “This is a significant improvement because RSL eliminates the discomfort and inconvenience of wire localization and simplifies our patients' pre-operative treatment.”

The seed used for an RSL gives off just enough radiation to be detected with a handheld Geiger counter in the operating room at the time of surgery, guiding the surgical team to the exact location of the seed. During surgery, the seed is removed along with the abnormal breast tissue and no radioactivity is left behind.

The hospital is able to provide RSL because of the support of the North York General Foundation,BMO Financial Group and proceeds from the foundation's 2014 Heart of Fashion event.

RSLs are performed in NYGH's BMO Financial Group Breast Diagnostic Centre(BDC), part of the Karen, Heather & Lynn Steinberg Breast Services. The BDC provides comprehensive services for women with a potential diagnosis of breast cancer, as identified by a clinical examination and/or medical imaging abnormalities.

North York General Hospital, affiliated with the University of Toronto, is one of Canada's leading community academic hospitals. We offer our culturally diverse community a wide range of acute care, ambulatory and long-term care services across three sites. Through partnerships, collaboration and academic endeavours, we seek to set new standards for patient- and family-centred care. Working together with our patients and their families, we are making a world of difference.

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Radioactive seed localization at NYGH
North York General Hospital is the first hospital in the Greater Toronto Area to provide as its standard of care radioactive seed localization for patients needing breast surgery.