clips after axillary node clearance

Just by chance I have discovered that I have some surgical clips in my axilla. Hx WLE and ANC May 2010, and further WLE for better margins June 2010.Had chemo pre surgery and rads after now on aromatase inhibitor. Late last year I fell and hurt my sternum. After 3-4 weeks with pain which was not lessening I saw GP had sternum/chest x-ray in Dec. The report showed a fractured sternum but also ‘surgical clips are projected over the Rt axillary region’. Fortunately they did not show up on an airport scanner last Sept.Don’t know how I would have explained that !
My question is why are they there? I cannot feel them and would not have known had I not had the x-ray. I certainly had a metal marker put in the breast tumour under u/s guidance pre chemo( I was awake) as it was thought the tumour would shrink.Thatmarker was removed with 1st WLE.
So what are these clips? Do any of you knowledgeable ladies know? Thanks J

Hi Libby,
to the best of my knowledge, they put clips in during surgery if you are scheduled to have rads… this helps them to line up the beam as accurately as possible.

If you cope with images of surgery, this video clip from the BBC Scotland ‘My New Breast’ explains it

Revcat Many Thanks just watched it and that makes perfect sense.I did have rads and had a CT scan 1st as per the video clip. J xx

I didnt know that!
Dont know if I’ve got clips in mine - suppose i shall have to ask.
Unfortunately being in france i cant watch the link as its i player and we are not allowed to access it from here.
Does it happen to everyone everywhere?
and do they show up at the airport - i fly backwards and forwards (very clever i know) to england at least three times a year.
as i said OMG (flaps hands dramatically)
Mary M

Hi Mary,
please don’t panic! I can’t answer all your questions as I’ve not yet been near an airport scanner since my surgery. The clips are little - a bit like staples - so far as I can tell, and it’s evidently ‘obvious’ what they are on an X-ray or scan. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Hi Mary
The first I heard about having clips was when I was taken in to hospital as an emergency during chemo with a chest infection. I had a chest x-ray and the registrar got called to x-ray as ‘something had show up on my chest x-ray’. I thought I was done for but the reg came back and said what they saw was the titanium clips the surgeon had put in to guide radiotherapy. I recently had a MRI and declared the clips which surprisingly caused a bit of conversation as to whether I was safe to go in the scanner. I had visions of being sucked into the tube and never getting out! They were fine and do not set off airport security or MRI scanners. My radiologist said that they are what progressive breast surgeons use to ensure we get good radiotherapy. Lou x

I’ve got loads in both my ANC and WLE but I had no idea they were there until I saw my first annual mammogram pictures just before Christmas.

I can’t watch iPlayer on my netbook so I’ll have to nap OH’s lappie to see it.

Jane xxx

Hi I did go through airport scanners at least twice with no probs before I knew about the clips.So mgsm please do not worry. Not sure if they do it everywhere though.
Part of my worry was that I had had a MRI on my knee, last year and ticked the box saying no metal clips in my body. Like you loupylou was glad I did not get sucked into the tube with no way out.
Perhaps our ONCs/ surgeons don’t tell us this but it was a bit of a shock/surprise. Clearly when I asked my GP about it he went on the defensive saying they were not left in accidentally- I never thought they were-I knew they were there for a reason.
Great that they are put in by progressive surgeons very reassuring.
Thanks all J xx

I had just turned 33 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in Jan 1988. Had a mastecomy and reconstruction. Since that time I have experienced these sharp pains in my armpit area.  (Happens perhaps 5 times a year.)  It’s like sharp pain 4 seconds - stop - sharp pain 2 seconds - stop - etc.  This can go on from 1 or 2 minutes - to 15 or more minutes. It wasn’t until our lab/radiology/other test results were required to be made available to us I learned I had axillary clips. (Saw note in radiology readings.)  I don’t remember if my surgeons told me about the clips.  (It’s amazing how selective our hearing is when we’re under medical/surgical care.)  Long story short - I can deal with it.  They never “dislodged” in the past 29 years.  No problems with airports or MRI’s. Since I just learned about my clips in the past 7 months or so - I had always checked the “no metal in body” line prior to MRI testing without problem. It’s WONDERFUL to have experienced my beautiful life (good and bad) after what could have been a death sentence all those years ago.  The clips can stay - they are a small price to pay for my precious second chance.