Needle Localization

Needle Localization (sometimes called wire localization) is performed in the Breast Care Center prior to surgery. Many times, suspicious areas can show up on mammograms or ultrasounds that are too small to be felt. The needle localization pinpoints the area that the surgeon needs to biopsy during your surgery.

If the area was found on mammography, the breast is compressed similar to the procedure for a mammogram while you sit in a special chair. Your breast will be in compression during the procedure. Pictures are taken to make sure the area is in view. The area to be localized is numbed with a local anesthetic, and a small needle is inserted into the breast. Mammogram films are taken to check the position of the needle.

When the radiologist determines that the needle is in the appropriate position, the thin guide wire is threaded through the needle and then the needle is removed. The wire has a small hook on the end so that it will stay in the breast until the surgeon removes it.

If the area of concern was found by ultrasound, the needle localization procedure may be performed using breast ultrasound. The radiologist locates the area with use of ultrasound. The area to be localized is numbed with a local anesthetic, and a small needle is then inserted into the breast. The radiologist determines the location and the thin wire guide is threaded through the needle and then the needle is removed. Mammogram pictures may be taken as needed to check the position of the wire.

The mammography technologist or nurse will place a dressing over the wire when you leave the Breast Care Center to go to surgery.