Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
How It Feels
You may feel a sharp sting or burn from
the medicine used to numb the biopsy site or from the dye or tracer. Feeling
pressure or warmth during the biopsy is normal, but you should feel little or
no pain. If you have pain, tell your doctor. If you feel like you are having an
allergic reaction, tell your doctor. This can happen
with the dye used for this biopsy.
If you have general anesthesia, you
may feel drowsy for several hours after the biopsy. You may have a mild sore
throat from the tube used to help you breathe during the biopsy. Throat
lozenges and gargling with warm salt water may help soothe your sore throat.
You may get medicine at the biopsy site that will help with the pain for 6 to
12 hours. You may have more pain after this medicine wears off.
The biopsy site may be sore for several days. A small amount of bleeding
is normal. Ask your doctor how much drainage to expect. Call your doctor
immediately if you have:
- An increase in pain, redness, or swelling at
the biopsy site.
- A fever.
- An increase in bleeding or
drainage, such as pus.
- Any swelling in your arm.
It is possible to have some problems after a
biopsy. Your doctor will give you instructions on what to do if a problem
- Bleeding from the biopsy site. This risk is
higher for people who have bleeding problems or who take blood-thinning
medicines. If you are at risk for bleeding, you may be given blood clotting
factors before the biopsy.
- Skin numbness at the biopsy
- Infection at the biopsy site
- Swelling and fluid
buildup (lymphedema). This is less likely after a sentinel node biopsy
than if more lymph nodes are taken out (axillary
- Problems from general anesthesia, if it is
- Damage to nerves at the biopsy site. This may cause weakness
sentinel lymph node biopsy is a surgery that takes out
lymph node tissue to look for infection or cancer.
Test results from are usually available within a few days.
lymph node tissue is usually treated with special dyes (stains) that color the
cells so problems can be clearly seen.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy
The dye or tracer flows evenly to the
sentinel lymph node.
The lymph node has normal numbers of lymph
The structure of the lymph node and the
cells look normal.
No cancer is present.
The dye or tracer does not flow evenly to
the sentinel lymph node.
The sentinel lymph node cannot be
Cancer cells may be seen. Cancer cells may
start in the lymph nodes, such as in
Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cancer cells may have spread, or
metastasized, from other sites, such as in
breast cancer or