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New technology helps in breast reconstruction.

Naperville Sun/Aurora Beacon-News: 

Health Aware: SPY technology latest tool in breast reconstruction
June 10, 2013

For some breast cancer patients, the medical tests, procedures and treatments can seem endless. Mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies lead up to the diagnosis, only to be followed by treatment, which might involve surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three. Moreover, if a woman undergoes a mastectomy, she might add reconstructive breast surgery to this list.

“Improvements to any step of this process — whether it’s a new drug or state-of-the-art equipment — help us ease the journey for breast cancer patients,” says Kim Stache, Associate Vice President, Operations at Edward Hospital.

With that in mind, Edward has added the SPY Elite Intraoperative Perfusion Assessment System — new technology that provides significant support for the surgeon’s decision-making during breast reconstruction surgery.

In breast reconstruction, the surgeon forms a new breast using either an implant, a flap of the patient’s tissue or a combination of the two. These flaps are sections of skin, fat and sometimes muscle that are moved to the chest from the stomach, back or another area of the body. Some reconstructions are done in one stage, immediately after the mastectomy, while others are done in two stages so that a tissue expander, inserted under the skin and chest muscle, will have time to stretch the area and make room for the implant.

According to Dr. Steven Sigalove, of DuPage Medical Group Plastic Surgery, “When we’re doing a reconstruction using a flap, we need to evaluate whether there is sufficient blood flow to the involved tissue. An inadequate supply of blood and oxygen can lead to necrosis (decay) or infection. These complications sometimes lead to a failed reconstruction and the need for additional surgery.”

Traditionally, surgeons have relied on their vision and clinical judgment to evaluate tissue. The SPY system uses near-infrared light technology and an HD video camera to extend the limits of the surgeon’s vision, allowing them to see the vessels’ blood flow in skin and other soft tissue.

“Now we can better assess blood supply and distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. SPY allows us to maximize results, while minimizing the complication rate. And in certain patients, SPY has enhanced our ability to do nipple-sparing surgery in a single-stage reconstruction,” Sigalove says.

In addition to its medical advantages, the SPY system offers an emotional benefit.

“Because SPY can reduce the need for additional surgeries, it means less anxiety for the patient,” according to Dr. John Bull, of DuPage Plastic Surgery. “SPY has provided a significant improvement to the breast reconstruction program at Edward.”

Edward is one of only a few nonteaching hospitals in the area with the SPY system.

“We want our breast cancer patients to have one stop for all their medical needs,” Stache says.

The SPY system also can be used in other types of operations, such as gastrointestinal and vascular surgeries.


Learn more about surgical services at Edward.


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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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