Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are or might be pregnant.
taking any medicines, especially medicines for depression, such as paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), amitriptyline (Limbitrol), or venlafaxine (Effexor).
- Are allergic to any medicines, including any
anesthetics or dyes.
- Have had bleeding
problems or take blood-thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin
- Have had a biopsy in the past.
- Have had
radiation treatment to the biopsy site.
Follow your doctor's instructions carefully. If you are
given a medicine (sedative) to make you relax or sleep
before the biopsy, do not eat or drink for 8 hours before the biopsy. Arrange
for someone to drive you home after the biopsy.
Talk to your
doctor about concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how
it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the
importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
You will need to take off clothing near
the biopsy site. You will wear a gown for a covering during the test.
If you are very anxious about the biopsy, you may be given a medicine
(sedative) to help you relax.
Before a sentinel node biopsy is
done, the dye or tracer is injected into the area, and a special camera
(lymphoscintigraphy) takes pictures of the lymph nodes. Some doctors use pain medicine with the dye to reduce discomfort. The dye may turn your
skin blue for a few days after the biopsy.
The first lymph node or
nodes to absorb the tracer are called the sentinel nodes. This node or nodes
and the tissue around them are taken out. You may have a numbing medicine
(local anesthesia) or go to sleep for the biopsy. The
lymph node sample is cut into many thin slices and looked at under a microscope
for cancer. You will have some stitches and a bandage over the biopsy site.
A sentinel lymph node biopsy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but
may take longer. If you have general anesthesia, you will be watched by a nurse
in the recovery room until you are fully awake.
Your doctor will
give you specific instructions to take care of your biopsy site. During your
follow-up visit, your doctor will discuss the results of your biopsy with you
and take out your stitches.