There's a bit about the dye and drains in the booklet I was given after my diagnosis. It's how I found out about this site. You can download the whole text from this site at http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/upload/pdf/bcc08_treating_final2.pdf
From page 17:
Sentinel node biopsy is a relatively new way of detecting whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and is a form of sampling. It involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material and a dye
that identifies the first - or 'sentinel' - node to receive lymph fluid from the tumour. If this sentinel node is clear it usually means that the other nodes are clear too. This means that removal of
most of the lymph nodes under the arm may be avoided for those people whose nodes are clear.
From pages 20-21:
Everyone reacts differently to surgery but most people recover well
with few major side effects.
You will be likely to have wound drains inserted during the
operation. These are tubes that drain blood and fluid from the wound
into a bottle. These drains will stay in for a few days after surgery
and will then be removed by a nurse. You can walk around and move
quite normally with the drains in. Some patients are able to go
home with their drains in and return each day to have them checked.
In some hospitals day case breast surgery may be offered ? this
means you may be able to have your surgery and go home the same
day. This will depend on whether it is available in your area,
your general health and the type of surgery you are having.
Some people may experience pins and needles, burning, numbness
or darting sensations in the breast area and down the arm on
the operated side. These symptoms are quite common and may go
on for a few weeks or even months. The scar may feel tight and
tender. If you have had breast-conserving surgery you may find it
more comfortable to wear a supportive bra, even in bed at night ?
though if you are more comfortable without a bra that is fine too.
Your arm and shoulder on the operated side are likely to feel
stiff and sore for some weeks. Your breast care nurse, surgeon or
physiotherapist will give you advice about exercises to help you
regain full movement. Exercise is an important part of the healing
process, which you should continue after you go home. If doing the
exercises is uncomfortable you may find taking painkillers before
doing them can help. If you have radiotherapy it is important to
continue these exercises, probably for at least two years, and many
physiotherapists would advise carrying on with them permanently.
Other normal effects following surgery include experiencing some pain
or discomfort and bruising or swelling around the operation site.
I hope this helps.
Have been reading different experiences. I am a few days ahea of you having had my lumpectomy on 2/2/10. I did have the isotope injection for snb the day before. I did have blue wee but no blue boob. I did have a drain. I have two wounds, one for the lump above my nipple and one close to my armpit for the nodes. I am currently awaiting my results to see if bc is in nodes. I am very bruised and very sore. Drain came out about 12 hours after surgery and i went home. i had to visit my gp surgery yesterday to have dressings changed and will go back next wednesday (10th) to have staples out.
I, like you, am very confused, frightened and naive about the whole thing at the moment. We can only take it one step at a time, but maybe, as we seem to be going through exactly the same, we could keep in touch. Thanks also to all those who are well down the path for giving us the benefit of their experience.
Ann I have no explanation at all as I just assumed everyone had a drain. My surgeon was Austrian so maybe they do things differently. I hear in France lipofil is not allowed but here they are doing it routinely. The only other thing different was that the surgeon told me a famous doctor was watching my op (heaven knows why maybe I got a trainee eeek!)and he made the decisions about just one node. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall?
I had a lumpectomy and snb in Oct, I had the radioactive injection aprox three hours before my operation. I didn t find the injection painfull it just stung a little, but 12 weeks on I still have a blue tinge around the nipple.
Good Luck the waiting is the worst.
Hi, I had this injection the day before my op, then went back following day for the photo´s early morning then op around 10am it´s a breeze, Lay back and think of England as us girls say!!!!
Luv Teresa xxx
It seems unusual to have a drain if you only had the sentinel node removed. I was told it would not be necessary because there are still plenty of nodes for the lymphatic fluid to drain into.
I had a lumpectomy and SNB at the same time. They found it was a very simple structure with just one very obvious lymph node crackling and flashing bright blue so they only took that one out.No further surgery needed. So my underarm scar is weeny, under an inch but I had one long drain in and carried a bottle around with me until loss went down, nurse visited me at home each day. It was no problem just a pest carrying the bottle round everywhere. My Grandson called it Andrew and wanted his picture taken with the drain bottle! I was scared having it out so delighted to not feel it at all. Maybe it depends on the surgeon but I had no bruising so guess the drain saved me that.I have just had a letter for a 2 year routine bone scan and the letter says it is a risk to others for 3 days if you have a urine or blood test. I will not be able to see/cuddle my Grandson for 24 hours after it.Everyone here has the radioactive tracer the day before their op. Just wanted to wish you luck and that they get clear margins first go and that the pathology results are as good as they can be given we have this crappy disease
Good luck everyone
My understanding is that you only need a drain if you have axillary node clearance and/or a mastectomy. If you have both, you will have two drains. I had a SNB, which they were able to test during surgery. As it was clear, they did not remove any more nodes and so I had no drain. That was my first question when I came round after the op, whether or not I had a drain.
I did not have to use special toilets after the radioisotope injection or wear a warning tag. In fact, no-one said I would be a danger to anyone else.
I think (but am not 100%) that a drain is used depending on the size & location of the lumpectomy. I had mine taken from under my breast and did not have a drain, nor at the site of the sentinel node dissection. All I had were large dressings which I was told to remove after 48 hours. I did this but felt the wounds still needed protecting so it is good to have a stock of large adhesive dressings (e.g. Mepore 11x15cm from Boots) to hand at home. Some one else might know when drains are used - but the nurse/docs should tell you at the hosp what to expect after the surgery.
i just noticed that lily said she had a drain. This hasnt been explained to me - will i have a drain after the lumpectomy if so how bulky is it. The intention is I have a lumpectomy at the same time as this procedure (blue dye stuff). Any nodes needed to be removed will be done so at a later op.
its ok... I will ask at the clinic. I am sure they wouldnt give it me if it was going to disappear before the op!(i hope)...
But yes sometimes they tell you things to put your mind at rest ie don't worry it will disappear in 8 hours... maybe it does last a bit longer I will let you know what they say
Oh, maybe it's a different procedure or I've remembered wrong.. sorry, didn't mean to cause alarm.
Now I think about it, mine was only done in the morning cos it was a Monday op and they don't do the injections on a Sunday - so if I'd had it done on the Sunday it would have been way more than 8 hours... Or maybe it was the chap trying to reassure me cos I didn't like the idea of it. It's 6 months ago and much happened since - sorry.
mine is the day before the op so if it flushes out in 8 hours it will be gone before my op which isn't until the afternoon of the day after.....so whats the point?
I had the nuclear injection and waited for an hour or so in the 'Radioactive patients' waiting room, and used the 'radioactive patients only' loos!
I was assured that it would be flushed out of my system (ie no longer radioactive) after 8 hours or so. I alos had a scan to make sure it was working, and had the blue dye in the op - it's a doubly sure way of identifying the right nodes. Only peed a bit of blue, nothing on my breast.
Blue wee and blue breast (still have that 4 months later and am told by surgeon that I may always have a blue tinge!)-still, its a small price to pay and makes for a good story at dinner parties!
I had this done in April 2008 and I scared a few people as my face was blue too until later that day and the blood coming out the drain was bright blue - what a princess :)They do it when you are asleep as I was told the dye stings. The nuclear part did not hurt and it was making sure no-one pregnant or under 5 came near me for the rest of that day and until I went in. I had to wear a warning wrist tag so the operating staff knew my blood would be radioactive and take appropriate precautions if pregnant. The radioactive material is taken up by the sentinel node and then they use a geigacounter which crackles and tells them which one/ones lead off from the tumour. My chest was blue for about 6 months!The op is very fast and you are under for a very short amount of time so little side effects. Anyway lots of luck to you and welcome to smurfworld where they turn you blue. Mine was done on April fools day so telling everyone I would be blue and radioactive meant everyone laughed their heads off when I told them!
thanks again for the responses. Its re assuring to understand more about exactly what will happen and it doesn't sound too bad on its own - I am obviously more worried about the lumpectomy the following day - and am trying to focus on this in a postive way in that it will get that evil nasty thing out of me... which if I could I would get a knife to myself! But then the wait for the results which I know will be the real killer but heh one step at a time....
I had the radioactive isotope the day before my SLNB and like others have explained, it is injected into the breast near the nipple, and then I had to wait for 20 mins for it to spread into the lymph system, then I had to lie under a gamma camera for 4 different scans (2 x 5 mins & 2 x 1 minute) for the nuclear med chap to track where the radioactivity was heading. At the end he marked up in black felt pen where he thought the sentinel node was lying. This is one way of locating the sentinel node, the other way which improves the accuracy is to track the blue dye which is injected when you first go into the op theatre. I think that the two procedures together imrpove the chance for the surgeon to get the sentinel node rather than relying on one or the other. I didn't realise before hand that this was the case - the way it was explained to me left me thinking that it was a radioactive blue dye that I was getting the night before the op. Hope it goes OK - I was in at 7.30 am and home by 1pm.
The injection is a radioactive isotope used to map the lymph nodes. It is given before the op, in my case during the morning. The dye is injected during the op, so that the surgeon can actually see the sentinel node. I found this article on the internet. It explains it better than I can:-
My hospital had the equipment to test the sentinel node during surgery, so that another op would not be necessary. If the bc had spread to the nodes, the surgeon would remove them at the same time. Fortunately, in my case, it had not.
Hi, I also had this injection. It stang for a few seconds but was fine.
I also had blue wee but no blue breast, although I did look a bit smurflike after the op. Lol.
i only had one blue wee and no blue breast i think everyone is different, i had the nuclear injection its exactly as the previous posts described, not pleasant but its not painful
thanks for responding to this its helpful to hear from others who have been through it. i will look out for the blue wee and blue breast!
Yes,I had this before my SNB.Just to warn you the dye they inject turns that part of your breast blue and it stays like that for several months,but does eventually go.
Good luck with the op.
I had the nuclear injection the day before my lumpectomy. I went to the nuclear medicine dept and like you was a bit uncertain what was about to happen.
All that happened was that I lay on a couch and the injection was inserted just above the nipple. It only took a few seconds.
Next day the surgeon injected the blue dye at the time of the op to locate the nodes. Only two were removed as I had investigation of nodes using microbubbles a few days before, which appeared clear.
Hope this helps.
I'm wondering if you have got it right that it is a nuclear injection. This is usually what is done for bone scans - you have the injection then have to wait 3 or 4 hours before the scan, and is always done in the nuclear imaging unit.
The die for biopsy is just a harmless coloured dye as far as I know, given during the surgery. In may case the dye was used to identify the nodes to be removed - but maybe you are having a different procedure?
Hi what your having is a sentinal node biopsy, a blue dye is injected near your tumour site and if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes it will show up.Afterwards you will notice you have blue wee i wasnt told about this so was a bit of a shock. Goog luck with your treatment. julie x
I have looked this up on this site via search but haven't found anything.
I have my lumpectomy booked next week and the day before I have to have an nuclear injection into my lymph nodes so they can take a sample during the op and check to see if the cancer has spread.
Has anyone had this treatment. It looks straightforward ie injection and then a scan but it would be helpful to know what to expect, how long it takes, and whether I will feel ok afterwards.