Sentinel Node Biopsy Post Op Query

Hi, yesterday (Aug 11th) I had my Therapeutic Mammoplasty & Sentinel Node Biopsy. All seemed good and my surgeon said op went well. I was discharged last night. As I was getting dressed to come home I noticed there was no steristrip or wound mark in my arm pit. My discharge letter says the Sentinel Node Biopsy was done however. The day surgery nurses had a good look at me and also found no evidence of the Sentinel Node Biopsy taking place and wondered if they had forgotten to do the proceedure. Is there any other site they could have taken Sentinel Nodes from possibly? My breast care nurse is now away for a fortnight and as it is the weekend I cant contact the med sec until Monday so feel a little lost. Many thanks

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Hi, this is the Ask the Nurses section of the forum I’m not sure they will reply before Monday now , the helpline is open however this morning maybe you could give them a ring . I’m not a nurse just another forum user but I’m pretty sure there are other methods of performing this biopsy eg internally via your mastectomy scar hopefully the nurses on the helpline can re-assure you .Hope your recovery goes well and you manage to speak to someone to re-assure you .

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0808 800 6000. Ask the nurses helpline .

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@midgetgem I’m not sure if this helps, but if a SLNB was done you would have had a radioactive substance injection to the affected breast (near original biopsy scar) before your surgery (mine was given about 90 mins before I was taken to theatre). This is done at the nuclear medicine department in the hospital. And then during the operation they would use a blue dye substance to help identify the sentinel lymph nodes to sample. My urine was a blue/greenish colour during the first 24 hours after surgery - I was told this is the blue dye coming out and nothing to worry about. If you had these then it would indicate that they did all the preparation steps for the SLNB & most likely also removed the sentinel nodes during the op.

I had a mastectomy & SLNB, so it’s not the same as you, but can say I didn’t have any steri-strips, my scar was a continuation of my mastectomy scar and it didn’t really go all the way into the centre of my armpit (but is visible when I raise my arm when wearing a sleeveless top). During the surgery they had applied a single dressing covering mastectomy/breast scar extending a bit further to the base of my underarm. I didn’t have 2 separate dressings/scars.

Just thought I’d share my experience in case the info helps in any way, but do call the nurses and re-check with your treatment team for peace of mind.

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Some surgeons can do the node biopsy through the incision in the breast, they just tunnel up into the axilla without making an additional incision under your arm. I had that done, I am sure it contributed to a quicker recovery.

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Thanks everyone, I spoke to a lovely nurse at Breast Cancer Now this morning who was just as perplexed. She went above and beyond to help me and spoke to another nurse. I did have the nuclear injection before surgery and she thinks it could have been done through my surgery incisions. If so its amazing as I have full movement in my arm and shoulder. I will call the hospital breast team on Monday to see what’s happened. Your replies mean a lot, thank you xx


Hi midgetgem

Thank you for posting.

A sentinel node biopsy does not always involve an incision under the armpit. Depending on where the cancer is in the breast, the surgeon can sometimes carry out a sentinel node biopsy using the same incision to your breast as @immy and @TDG say.

As you had a nuclear medicine injection prior to your operation, and your discharge report states that you had a sentinel node biopsy it sounds as though this is what has happened. It is good to hear that you were able to call our helpline over the weekend and that you plan to contact your medical team today to confirm the type of surgery that you had.

It is reassuring to hear that you are not experiencing any shoulder stiffness or reduced movement in your arm and continuing with your arm and shoulder exercises should help to ensure a full range of arm movement. You may also find our information on what to expect after breast cancer surgery helpful.

We offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events.

For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link, or call our free helpline.

Do call our helpline again if you would like to talk this through some more or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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