Faxitron® Revolutionizes Breast Cancer Surgery

by Sarah Ettman-Sterner | Jan 11, 2017

When Beth MacIntosh*, a mother of two young children and  busy software executive, received her breast cancer diagnosis, she decided that one way she could proactively combat the disease was to educate herself about her treatment plan. She met with Rosa Choi, M.D., her Sansum Clinic breast surgeon, with a list of questions. Beth says, “I needed to know things like ‘What kind of surgical procedure will be used?’ ‘Will the operation take a long time?’ ‘Are you going to use any new techniques that will help to remove all of the cancer and give me the best outcome?’ How long will I be hospitalized?’”

As a woman and a physician, Dr. Choi understood Beth’s concerns and gently worked to prepare her for the next steps in her journey to regain her health and conquer cancer. Dr. Choi met with Beth, answered all her questions and reassured her that this is a very curable cancer. Beth was relieved when she learned she wouldn’t have to face recovery in a hospital; instead she would be able to go home the same day and be cared for by her family in familiar surroundings.

Dr. Choi shared with Beth exciting news about a new surgical procedure she uses involving a special X-ray apparatus called the Faxitron. This recently acquired piece of technology, located right in the operating room at Sansum Clinic’s new Foothill Surgery Center, is improving both the doctor and the patient experience with breast cancer surgery. In fact, Sansum Clinic is the only medical center with a Faxitron in the Santa Barbara area.

According to Dr. Choi, “Sansum Clinic invested in this machine because of its proven capabilities in providing our patients with the highest level of care.” Before the Clinic acquired this advanced technology, the breast specimen had to be taken to a different facility to be X-rayed and viewed by a radiologist. Now, with the Faxitron, Dr. Choi has better control in the OR and can do everything in one session: mark the lesion and the margins around it, perform the lumpectomy, prepare the tissue and load it directly into the machine located a few steps from the operating table. She can take the X-rays herself and read them in mere minutes and can even rotate the specimen to get more than a two-dimensional view. The end result is a more efficient surgical process that eliminates lengthy steps and produces more data in less time, which is critical for assessing if all the cancer has been removed. Using the Faxitron right in the operating room reduces time patients spend under general anesthesia, reduces the potential for re-excision and improves patient care.

When Beth returned to the Clinic for her two-week postoperative appointment, Dr. Choi utilized Sansum Clinic’s Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) to pull up the Faxitron X-rays from the day of the surgery. Together, they reviewed the new films and compared them with previous mammograms. Dr. Choi says, “I like to use Faxitron X-rays as a tool to educate patients about their body and the individualized care they are receiving.” Beth was thankful to learn that all of the tumor was removed. She says, “Though I need to follow up with additional therapies, I know that the Clinic is doing everything it can so I have the best possible outcome.”

Dr. Choi says, “I’m very excited to use the skills I have in a new way with advanced technology that reduces the total time in the surgery center and enhances treatment efficacy, all to maximize benefits for my patients. I tell women who come to me anxious and afraid, not to worry. Sansum Clinic has a state-of-the-art facility and an excellent team of doctors, nurses, breast care navigators and staff who are all looking out for their best interest. They are in great hands.”

*The patient’s name has been changed to protect privacy.

Dr. Rosa Choi

Dr. Rosa Choi has been a provider at Sansum Clinic since 2001. She is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery. Dr. Choi received her medical degree from UCLA. She completed an internship and residency in General Surgery at Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Choi’s special interest includes breast cancer. Dr. Choi is a Physician Cancer Liaison with the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group. She is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Santa Barbara County Medical Society, and the Society of Surgical Oncology. She has served as Clinical Instructor of Surgery at Harvard University / Massachusetts General Hospital and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.