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New device could spare breast cancer patients from painful shots

Patient Rhonda Bayrami, 53, of Whitestone, Queens, displays

Patient Rhonda Bayrami, 53, of Whitestone, Queens, displays the AeroForm device, a tissue expander used prior to reconstructive surgery, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, on Wednesday, June 7, 2017. Photo Credit: Uli Seit

A new medical device that uses carbon dioxide to expand breast tissue can keep breast cancer patients from undergoing painful saline injections to prepare for reconstructive surgery, Northwell Health doctors said during a demonstration Wednesday.

The AeroForm device, approved for marketing by the federal Food and Drug Administration in December, is a tissue expander that can be controlled remotely by the patient.

At Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park on Wednesday, Rhonda Bayrami, 53, of Whitestone, Queens — who has been using the device for about two weeks — demonstrated how it’s used.

“I’m so grateful that finally in 2017 we have technology that has finally caught up to the 21st century,” Bayrami said. “Using this device has freed me from having to have horrible needles injected into my breasts.”

Traditionally, patients would have to go to the doctor’s office weekly to receive painful saline injections to stretch the breast tissue in preparation for an implant, said Northwell Health’s Dr. Alan Kadison, who performed Bayrami’s mastectomy.

AeroForm, a silicone tissue expander containing carbon dioxide, is inserted into the affected area of the breast, according to AirXpanders, the Palo Alto, California-based company that manufactures the device.

At the touch of a button from a battery-operated remote control, the patient can release the carbon dioxide in the device’s microvalve to expand the breast to the desired shape. This can be performed up to three times a day, according to the company.

Dr. Neil Tanna, the reconstructive surgeon at Northwell who placed Bayrami’s AeroForm device, said it allows patients to take charge of their recovery. Northwell Health said Tanna was the first surgeon on Long Island to implant the device in a patient.

“It really empowers women to actively be involved in their care,” Tanna said. “I think that sense of autonomy really helps them get back on their two feet after having had a mastectomy.”

How the technology works

  • AeroForm — a silicone tissue expander made by AirXpanders of California — is inserted into the affected breast.
  • The expander contains a microvalve that releases carbon dioxide into the breast.
  • The patient uses a remote control to release the gas up to three times a day, expanding the breast tissue.

Source: AirXpanders

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