Wire guided localization has been the standard for indicating the location of breast lesions for surgical removal for decades.
It is a well-established safe, effective, and inexpensive procedure that can be performed with local anesthesia in either mammographic, magnetic resonance, or ultrasound imaging – wherever the lesion best images.
However, wire guided localization does have its disadvantages. Aside from coordinating scheduling on the day of the procedure between radiology and surgery, there is the fact that the wire is externally exposed.
Any movement of the guidewire can compromise the accuracy of the localization of the lesions to be surgically removed.
Makeshift methods of protecting the guidewire may do more harm than good
The exposed wire is at risk of being bent, broken, dislodged, or moved out of place while the patient is waiting for surgery.
To help stabilize the guidewire and prevent movement, imaging facilities have employed a variety of practices to protect and stabilize the guidewire.
Some facilities will leave the cannula in for additional support of the wire. In some instances, the protruding cannula may be protected by taping a cup to further protect it from accidental dislodgement - although in some cases, the very act of taping the cup down is the reason for needle dislodgement.
More commonly, facilities will cover the wire with gauze and tape it down on the patient's breast.
While this method is more esthetically pleasing for the patient and prevents movement of the guidewire prior to surgery, it has one major drawback – surgical staff needs to remove the gauze before surgery.
With no visibility of the wire through the gauze, surgical staff can unwittingly tug the wire while removing the dressing meant to protect it.