Surgical clip left behind

Hi all

I thought it might be worth letting you know about a recent (unnecessary) worrying experience which might save someone else going through the anxiety that I did.

I had a right sided mastectomy last year. This summer I developed pain in the right shoulder and whilst that was being investigated I had a chest x ray. Something suspicious was picked up on the 4th rib on the right hand side. There was then an anxious wait for a bone scan, then another anxious wait for the results - in all about 3 weeks.

It turns out that there was a very small titanium surgical clip left behind after my surgery and it was this that was causing all the concern. The breast surgeon said they use these all the time in this type of surgery so the chances are that someone else might have a similar problem in the future.

I’m not seeing the breast surgeon again until November but will ask then whether it’s safe for the clip to stay where it is. My understanding so far is that it shouldn’t cause any problems and I’m just hugely relieved it wasn’t anything more sinister.

Hi, I know a lady who had a lumpectomy on the left side and as it was really big they used surgical clips. She was in a lot of discomfort months later and it was found some of the clips had been left in place. I’ve heard of this happening before. I think she had to have them removed.

Hi Susie

Titanium is a very good metal in terms of being tolerated well by the body and not causing any allergic reaction, toxicity etc. In dentistry, we use titanium for dental implants which are meant to remain in the body indefinitely, so it shouldn’t be a problem. However, if the actual clip hurts, that is a different matter.

Hi All,

I was told that my surgeon deliberately left in two clips as when they went to do the radiotherapy it showed them exactly the top and bottom of the area of where the tumour was removed and helped guide them. I guess that also applies for any scans etc over the coming years. it helps them focus.

Its certainly safe, or should I say I hope so as I have a large titanium rod in my Humerus (top arm bone) following a bad break last year!

Best wishes


It certainly used to be common practice to use surgical clips in Mastecomy operations and these were left in place and caused no problems (in most cases)
Not sure if they still do this routinely though.
Clips are not “accidently left” in place as thay are there to do a job and that is why they are put in.Very occasionally they may cause a problem.