Ultrasound-visible clips prove practical, cost-effective for guiding breast surgery

Biopsy clips can outperform conventional wires for localizing breast cancers, as the former may boost utilization of ultrasound guidance for tumor resection, in the process minimizing patient discomfort while helping control costs.

That’s according to researchers at the University of Vermont who compared localization techniques. Their findings were published online Nov. 18 in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

Senior study author Michelle Sowden, DO, and colleagues analyzed data on 2,209 patients who had a breast biopsy at their institution over a three-year period ending in 2016.

In patients with breast cancer, the team found, the placement of ultrasound-visible clips during biopsy increased the use of ultrasound during tumor resection by 13%.

Additionally, biopsy specimen volumes were no greater with the clips than with wire localization.

Meanwhile the team found a savings of $36,000 associated with the use of ultrasound-visible clips.

The authors suggest that ultrasound guidance combined with ultrasound-visible clips may constitute a best practice for patients undergoing breast surgery.   

“In partial mastectomy or lumpectomy, ultrasound localization avoids discomfort and additional procedures associated with wire localization,” they wrote. “Placement of an ultrasound-visible clip at the time of biopsy is recommended, as it is costeffective and avoids the discomfort and inconvenience of wire localization.”