Breast Cancer Treatment at our Hospital a First in Belgium | Maria Middelares General Hospital

On Monday, 18 October 2021, our hospital began using a new, innovative technique for marking non-palpable breast tumours. This wireless localisation technique uses the magnetic Pintuition seed, ensuring that the breast cancer treatment goes more smoothly and more simply for the patient. We are the very first hospital in Belgium to implement this innovative treatment with the magnetic Pintuition seed.

The departments of Radiology and Breast Surgery at the Maria Middelares General Hospital collaborated to implement this new technique.

Dr Barbara Geeroms, Radiologist for the Maria Middelares General Hospital and specialised in breast radiology: ‘Up until a short while ago, we marked non-palpable breast lesions with a harpoon. Using ultrasound guidance, we placed a thread with a sort of anchor through the tumour. The thread was placed on the day of the operation. That was sometimes logistically difficult to schedule, which caused the patient extra stress. In addition, the position of the thread determined where the incision was made, along with the operation direction, which did not always give the best cosmetic result. An additional disadvantage was that the thread stuck out of the patient's breast on the day of the procedure.’

‘The Pintuition seed is very simple and can be placed in the lesion quite accurately, which is much more pleasant for patients than the harpoon. Another benefit is that the seed can be used to mark the breast tumour before starting chemotherapy. After all, chemotherapy can shrink the tumour so much that you cannot locate it on imaging. In the past, before starting chemotherapy, a clip was placed in the tumour and the remaining tumorous lesion had to be marked with a thread just prior to the operation. Thanks to the Pintuition seed, only one procedure is necessary. In addition, it can be used to mark lymph nodes in the underarm.’

Breast surgeons also see advantages with the new system: ‘We determine the incision placement, which leads to better cosmetic results. The Sirius Pintuition system also has advantages compared to other magnetic seeds. The detection system relies on point-source localisation. You run a detection probe along the outer edge of the breast, and the probe lets you know when you’re above the lesion. The system provides the exact distance between the detection probe and the magnetic seed (in millimeters), so the surgeon knows how deep to cut. Pre-operatively, we’re also able to check whether the seed is centrally located in the resected piece, or if yet more tissue must be removed to achieve a safe resection margin. Another benefit is that we no longer have to operate using plastic instruments, which was required for the other magnetic seeds that we worked with in the past.’

‘In conclusion, the Pintuition seed is significantly more economical than other magnetic seeds. Because these seeds are not yet reimbursed by the RIZIV, that’s a huge financial benefit for the patient. Maria Middelares General Hospital provides financial assistance for patients who need more than one seed (e.g. if a tumour and a lymph node need to be marked).’