New Technology Provides Facelift for Breast Reconstruction at St. Vincent’s
September 8th, 2015
Breast reconstruction surgery is getting its own facelift thanks to new technology available at only four hospitals nationwide. St. Vincent’s Riverside, a ministry of Ascension, the nation’s largest non-profit health system, is one of those hospitals to now offer patients the Fluobeam® Imaging System.
Currently, surgeons at St. Vincent’s Riverside are using the technology to better guide them during certain breast reconstruction operations. After surgery, some women are at increased risk for tissue death. Tissue with the best blood flow is less likely to die and now, thanks to this technology, physicians can identify that tissue during surgery.
“Having this technology with me in the operating room is like having an extra set of eyes. It allows me to better assess which tissue is healthy – something I couldn’t otherwise do without cutting,” said plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Michael Fallucco. “This is a new frontier for improving visualization in plastic surgery. I’m confident this technology will increase patient safety, improve outcomes and decrease the number of future surgeries some patients require.”
This is how the Fluobeam® works: Doctors inject a non-radioactive fluorescent marker into the patient. This marker attaches itself to the tissue. Physicians then use the handheld Fluobeam® device, which is equipped with a laser and a near-infrared camera, to see which tissue has the best blood flow.
In mastectomies, it allows doctors to determine if an implant can be placed right away versus an expander which requires a second surgery. For women who require tissue expanders, it allows physicians to see if the tissue is healthy enough to allow the expander to be placed above the muscle instead of under it, allowing for expansion without pain. For reconstruction surgeries where the patient's lower abdominal fat is taken to rebuild the breast, it allows surgeons to only transfer viable tissue, cutting down on future revision surgeries. Because the device is handheld, doctors can even use it in patient rooms to examine blood flow after surgery.
“We believe this advancement will offer hope and improved care to women who need breast surgery,” said Cynthia Farah, Service Line Director for Oncology and Women’s Services. “Investing in emerging technology allows us to provide tomorrow’s gold standard of care today.”