Transformative technique aims to revolutionize breast tumor surgery

Clinical trials at Hotel Dieu Hospital are using GPS-like technology to literally map a new way to perform breast tumor surgery, a transformative technique that will be the focus of a free public information session, 6-8 pm, Tuesday, Dec. 8 in the Hotel Dieu Hospital Auditorium.

Currently, surgeons performing breast tumor surgery are guided to the tumor site by a pre-positioned fine wire.  A tumor that is hard to see and feel, however, can be challenging to remove entirely and without compromising healthy tissue as well.

By contrast, the electromagnetic navigation system under study at Hotel Dieu gives surgeons a clear visual of the targeted area.  An ultrasound marks the breast tumor and visualizes a computer-generated 3D model of the tumor site on a computer screen, and real-time tracking information equips the surgeon to remove the breast tumor cleanly in a single surgery.

The whole point of the technique is to obtain cancer-free margins at the excision site, says Dr. Jay Engel, the presenter at the Dec. 8 session and Chair of Surgical Oncology at Queen’s University:  “If you get the margins right the first time, then you reduce the need for further surgery and also conserve healthy breast tissue.”

At the Dec. 8 session, Dr. Engel and his research team, which includes surgical residents and computer scientists from the Queen’s School of Computing, will be demonstrating their unique surgical technique, about to move to the second stage of clinical trials and rapidly grabbing attention nationally and internationally.

Mapping the Future of Breast Surgery: Using real-time electromagnetic navigation in breast-conserving surgery takes place 6-8 pm, Tuesday, Dec. 8 in the Johnson 1 Auditorium at Hotel Dieu Hospital.  Hosted by the Hotel Dieu Hospital Research Institute, the event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit or contact the Hotel Dieu Hospital Research Institute at 613-544-3400, ext. 2115.

Breast-conserving surgery research is an example of how Hotel Dieu Hospital is contributing to making Ontario Healthier, Wealthier and Smarter.

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