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Sentinel Node Location

Nuclear medicine tests use a small amount of radioactivity to obtain images.  This will help your surgeon to find the Sentinel Lymph Node, which is the first node in the lymph chain to which cancer may spread.  This test is to show the location of the first node, and does not necessarily mean that there is any involvement of the lymph nodes.  

Test Preparation

Please inform us if you are pregnant or if you think you are pregnant.  No other preparation is needed.

Exam Procedure

You will have an anaesthetic cream applied to the injection area an hour before your appointment by staff on the ward.

We will ask you to change into a patient gown prior to the examination.  The radioactivity will be injected at the edge of the nipple just underneath the skin.  There will be some discomfort during the injection which will usually subside after a few minutes, and the anaesthetic cream should help with this.  

You may have to wait 15-30 minutes before the scan to allow the radioactivity to reach the sentinel node.  During this time you can help the movement of radioactivity by massaging the breast.  

The scan is performed using equipment called a gamma camera and will take about 10 minutes.  You will be asked to lie on your back with your arms above your head.  As soon as we can see the node we will mark the skin using a marker pen.  Occasionally the node will not show on the first scan and we may have to rescan you at a later time.  

The mark on the skin enables the surgeon to find the node which is then removed and tested.  You will then return to the ward.

If you are a female of childbearing age, please inform us if you are, or think you might be pregnant, before your injection.  Please inform us also if you are breast-feeding.  

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