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Southern DHB Breast Care - Southland

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    The Breast Care Service (on the Dunedin site) has a “one day work-up” of patients who have been referred, which is efficient and patient-friendly. Results are provided in a more timely fashion and the amount of travel for appointments reduced.

    One-day work-up includes clinical assessment by the surgical team with appropriate imaging and any required laboratory samples to enable accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. Patients will then be booked for other procedures if necessary.

    Please use the one page Breast Care Services GP referral form to enable the Breast Care Service to accurately triage referrals. An electronic copy will be available through the PHO link.

    Please send referrals to the breast care nurse at the appropriate location.

    Patients with suspected breast abscess ideally should be discussed with breast team (surgeon or registrar) and if appropriate imaging arranged by contacting nurses in BCS. Out of hours radiology can contacted directly by the specialist.


    • Dr Alice Febery

      General Surgeon
    • Mr Murray Pfeifer

      General Surgeon
    • Mr Paul Samson

      Mr Paul Samson

      General Surgeon


    A mammogram is a special type of x-ray used only for the breast. Mammography can be used either to look for very early breast cancer in women without breast symptoms (screening) or to examine women who do have breast symptoms (diagnostic).

    What to expect?
    You will need to undress from the waist up.  One of your breasts will be positioned between two plastic plates which will flatten the breast slightly. Most women find that this is a bit uncomfortable, but not painful. Generally two x-rays are taken of each breast. It is also useful to compare the results with earlier examinations and you should take any previous mammography results with you.

    Breast Ultrasound

    In ultrasound, a beam of sound at a very high frequency (that cannot be heard) is sent into the body from a small vibrating crystal in a hand-held scanner head.  When the beam meets a surface between tissues of different density, echoes of the sound beam are sent back into the scanner head.  The time between sending the sound and receiving the echo back is fed into a computer, which in turn creates an image that is projected on a television screen.  Ultrasound is a very safe type of imaging; this is why it is so widely used during pregnancy.

    What to expect?
    After lying down, the area to be examined will be exposed.  Generally a contact gel will be used between the scanner head and skin.  The scanner head is then pressed against your skin and moved around and over the area to be examined.  At the same time the internal images will appear onto a screen.

    Fine Needle Aspiration

    This procedure involves inserting a needle through your skin into the breast lump and removing a sample of tissue for examination.


    Open Excisional: a small incision (cut) is made as close as possible to the lump and the lump, together with a surrounding margin of tissue, is removed for examination. If the lump is large, only a portion of it may be removed.

    Core Needle Biopsy: this involves inserting a needle through your skin into the breast lump and removing a sample of tissue for examination.

    Breast Cancer Surgery

    This may be:

    Simple or Total: all breast tissue, skin and the nipple are surgically removed but the muscles lying under the breast and the lymph nodes are left in place. Modified Radical: all breast tissue, skin and the nipple as well as some lymph tissue are surgically removed. Partial: the breast lump and a portion of other breast tissue (up to one quarter of the breast) as well as lymph tissue are surgically removed. Lumpectomy: the breast lump and surrounding tissue, as well as some lymph tissue, are surgically removed. When combined with radiation treatment, this is known as breast-conserving surgery.

    Breast Reconstruction

    When a breast has been removed (mastectomy) because of cancer or other disease, it is possible in most cases to reconstruct a breast similar to a natural breast. A breast reconstruction can be performed as part of the breast removal operation or can be performed months or years later.

    There are two methods of breast reconstruction: one involves using an implant; the other uses tissue taken from another part of your body. There may be medical reasons why one of these methods is more suitable for you or, in other cases, you may be given a choice.

    A silicone sack filled with either silicone gel or saline (salt water) is inserted underneath the chest muscle and skin. Before being inserted, the skin will sometimes need to be stretched to the required breast size. This is done by placing an empty bag where the implant will finally go, and gradually filling it with saline over weeks or months. The bag is then replaced by the implant in an operation that will probably take 2-3 hours under general anaesthesia (you will sleep through it). You will probably stay in hospital for 2-5 days.

    Flap Reconstruction
    A skin flap taken from another part of the body such as your back, stomach or buttocks, is used to reconstruct the breast. This is a more complicated operation than having an implant and may last up to 6 hours and require a 5- to 7-day stay in hospital.

    Breast Reduction

    Surgery to reduce breast size involves making a cut (incision) around the areola (the dark area around the nipple) straight downwards and along the crease beneath the breast. Glandular tissue, fat and skin are removed and the breast reshaped. The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia (you will sleep through it) and will take 2-4 hours. You will probably stay in hospital 1-2 nights and will need to arrange for someone else to drive you home.

    You may need to take some medication for pain relief for several days and you must wear a special support bra continuously for 2 weeks after surgery. You will probably be able to return to work after about 2 weeks. It will take several months for the scars to fade.