UW-Madison inventors introduce new system to better find breast cancer tumors

Elucent Medical, a startup founded in part by three University of Wisconsin-Madison innovators, has developed a new way to locate tumors during breast cancer lumpectomies, according to a Jan. 3 university news release

Currently, physicians performing biopsies leave behind small metal clips to mark suspicious breast lesions. If a lumpectomy is required, a radiologist must insert a hook wire the day of surgery through the skin to the biopsy clip, providing a visible path to the lesion. A surgeon cuts along the wire to remove the marker, wire and lesion.

The new invention replaces the metal clip with a SmartClip that emits a high-frequency signal when activated. This signal provides a continuous 3D location for the surgeon, eliminating the hook wire and placed during the biopsy or anytime before surgery.

The new marker is intended to streamline scheduling and reduce patient stress, pain and costs.

Lee Wilke, MD, a breast surgeon and director of the UW Health Breast Center, spearheaded the invention and worked alongside Elucent's other co-founders: Fred Lee Jr., MD, professor of radiology, biomedical engineering and urology at UW-Madison; Daniel van der Weide, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison; CEO Laura King.

Elucent's system is currently implemented at Madison, Wis.-based SSM Health Dean Medical Group and at Madison-based UW Health. Elucent expects to expand to about 15 hospital systems by the end of the month.  

Breast surgery is only the beginning, Dr. Wilke said in the news release. Other possibilities include lung cancer and head and neck procedures.  

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