PatientsVisitorsLocations & ServicesAbout the RegionJoin Our TeamPhysicians
Find:  Locations | Services
Tests and Procedures HomeBreast Health CentreMedical ImagingNeurophysiology
Tests and Procedures
Breast Health Centre: Wire Localization

​What is a wire localization?

Wire localization is a procedure in which a wire is placed in the breast by a radiologist to accurately mark the location of an abnormality prior to surgery. The wire ensures that when it comes time for your surgery (usually a few hours later) the abnormality the surgeon wants to remove has been correctly identified.

How is it done and how long does it take?

Wire localizations are performed by radiologists in two ways - ultrasound guided or mammography guided. The method used depends on how the abnormality is best visualized.

A wire localization procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Wire localizations identify the exact location of the abnormality for surgeons.

How is a wire localization performed?

You remain awake during the procedure but should not feel any pain. The radiologist will explain the procedure, answer questions and obtain your consent prior to the start of the procedure.

Ultrasound guided localization

  • A sonographer will perform a preliminary scan to find the abnormality for the radiologist.
  • Your skin will be cleansed and local anaesthetic will be given to numb the area. The radiologist will confirm the location of the abnormality, then, while scanning, guide a needle to the site.
  • When the needle is in place, the radiologist will thread a very fine wire through the needle. The needle is then removed leaving the wire in place. There is a small hook on the end of the wire to prevent it from moving within the breast.
  • A mammogram is then taken to document the placement of the wire in relation to the abnormality. These images are accessible by your surgeon.
  • A small length of wire will be seen outside of your breast. This will be taped to your skin and covered with a bandage to prevent it from moving.

Mammography guided localization

  • This method is best for abnormalities seen only by mammography such as microcalcifications. A local anaesthetic will be given to numb the area if the location of the abnormality allows.
  • The technologist will position you for a sitting mammogram. The compression paddle has an opening in it. It is within this opening that the abnormality will be placed. The compression will be firm but not as tight as with a regular mammogram. It is important you hold very still to ensure the accurate placement of the localization.
  • The radiologist will clean your skin and then place the needle where the abnormality is seen. Another image is taken to check the placement. Once the radiologist is confident in the positioning of the needle, the compression is released and an image is take from a 90 degree angle. This is to confirm the depth and make any adjustments as needed. Once needle placement is confirmed, the wire is inserted through the needle and the needle is removed.
  • Two final images are taken to confirm the placement of the wire. These are made available to your surgeon.
  • A small length of wire will be seen outside of your breast. This will be taped to your skin and covered with a bandage to prevent it from moving.

Is it a painful procedure?

Because local anaesthic is usually given for ultrasound-guided wire localizations, you will likely only feel a little pinch from the needle used to give the freezing. There will also be come compression from the mammogram you are given post-procedure.

If your localization is mammography guided, you may have some discomfort from the compression.

Do I have to worry about the wire coming out?

The wire inserted into your breast has a small hook on the end to keep it in place. However, it is possible for the wire to move if pushed or pulled. For that reason, the end of the wire is carefully taped to your skin and covered with a bandage. It is best if you do not try to move your arm too much, especially lifting, on the same side as the wire.


If you have questions or concerns, contact the Breast Health Centre at 306-655-8686. Our office is open Monday to Friday. 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 |
Questions or feedback about this page?