The SPY imaging system that Surrey Hospital and Outpatient Centre Foundation has fundraised for can greatly improve the success rates of breast reconstruction surgery following cancer.

SPY mission completed as $350,000 raised for SMH

Imaging tool to help patients with reconstruction following breast cancer.

One final donation has ended a $350,000 campaign to bring an important tool for surgeons who treat breast cancer patients.

After a lengthy search for funding, the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey has placed an order for the SPY imaging system.

“I’m very excited to say we are done,” said Surrey Hospital and Outpatient Centre Foundation (formerly Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation) President and CEO Jane Adams.

She explains the technology provides instant images of breast tissue during surgery.

“These (the images) can show potential healing problems, enabling the surgeon to take immediate steps to prevent post-surgery complications.”

The SPY imaging system involves surgeons injecting a safe fluorescent dye into the body at the start of reconstructive surgery.

A laser within the SPY system follows the dye, sending the surgeon high-quality images of blood flow within vessels, tissue and organs.

The images allow surgeons to ensure there is a healthy blood flow circulating to the breast mound so they can precisely reattach blood vessels as well as the breast skin flaps.

“It’s (the technology) so dramatic in what it can do for patients,” said Adams.

Every month, 650 patients, who are mostly women, visit the Breast Health Clinic at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. The clinic dramatically speeds up the process for diagnosing suspicious masses which show up in routine mammographies.

“At the Jim Pattison Centre, everything is done on the same day,” said Adams.

Approximately 300 women every year will end up having mastectomies, which are often followed by reconstructive surgery.

One local plastic surgeon, Dr. Adrian Lee, has already been trained on the SPY imaging system, which was tried out recently in Surrey.

The SPY system will be among only two in the province – the other at VGH.

The last contributor to the fundraising campaign was the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon, which donated the last several hundred of the $350,000.

“We are very pleased to be able to step up to the plate and grant the outstanding $15,500 required to complete the purchase of the SPY equipment,” said Wendy Slavin, CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – BC/Yukon Region. “We are confident that this investment will help ensure better outcomes for women undergoing reconstruction following breast cancer surgery.”

“It will make an enormous difference for our patients,” added Adams.

— with files from Steph Troughton