Partial Breast Radiation Catheter Insertion (SAVI, Contura, Mammosite)

Partial-breast irradiation, or internal radiation, occurs after a lumpectomy to help prevent breast cancer from recurring. Internal radiation shortens the treatment duration and limits the dose of radiation and associated side effects to surrounding normal tissue. There are several methods.

During the procedure using low-dosage seeds, a doctor places small pieces of radioactive material (seeds) into multiple small tubes under the skin where the breast cancer was removed. When using low-dosage seeds, treatment takes only a few days. These patients remain in the hospital since the material is radioactive. Once the treatment is completed, doctors remove the seeds, stitches, and tubes.

When using high-dosage seeds, each seed remains for no more than 10 minutes before removal in the treatment center. The course of high-dosage internal radiation treatment is usually five days with two treatments per day.

In balloon-catheter internal radiation, a doctor places a special tube with a balloon on the end into the area where cancer was removed. The doctor then fills the balloon with fluid to hold the balloon and tube snugly in place. It can be inserted in an operating room or in a surgeon's office. Once treatment is completed, the surgeon removes the balloon through the small hole in the skin.