What is Breast Localization?

As preparation for surgery to remove breast disease, you or a loved one may be asked by your surgeon to undergo breast localization at the Breast Diagnostic Center. This procedure utilizes imaging to mark the edges of the tumor or lesion to be removed - enabling the greatest degree of surgical accuracy and aids removal of the tumor or lesion with the smallest possible incision.

Not every surgery to remove breast disease requires breast localization--whether or not breast localization is necessary is determined by the surgeon. The most common procedure requiring breast localization is lumpectomy. Breast localization provides important guidance to the surgeon and makes sure that even small lesions can be located and safely removed with the smallest possible incision.

What To Wear

The procedure is done about three hours prior to surgery and is typically the first procedure you or your loved one will undergo on the day of surgery. If you are scheduled for breast localization, you will be given a specific time to report to the Breast Diagnostic Center on the day of surgery. Since the needle localization requires you to undress from the waist up then re-dress for transport to the hospital, is is suggested that you wear clothing that is loose fitting and easily taken on and off. Also, since the wires protrude somewhat from the breast and you will not be able to wear a bra after they are inserted, it is recommended that you wear clothing that allows you to feel sufficiently covered.

Breast Localization Procedure

Breast localization involves the use of mammography or ultrasound guidance - and in some cases, MRI - to locate the area of breast disease. One or more very small wires are then gently inserted through the breast skin and into the affected area. The wires are bendable and will be covered with a dressing before you leave the Breast Diagnostic Center. After the wires are inserted, a final mammogram is taken to give the surgeon an image of the breast and wire placement in relation to the breast lesion to be surgically removed. These wires stay inserted in the breast until they are removed by the surgeon to help the surgeon determine precisely where to make the incision and the area of tissue to removed.

After the breast localization is complete, you will be transported via hospital mini-bus from the Breast Diagnostic Center to the pre-operative surgery area in the hospital. Any loved ones who are accompanying the patient may also ride on the mini-bus to the hospital.


If you have any questions about whether or not you will be having breast localization, or any questions about the breast surgery that is planned, ask your surgeon or contact the Breast Navigator RNs at the Breast Diagnostic Center or the Advance Practice Nurses at Torrance Memorial Cancer Resource Center at 310-517-4665.

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