Surgical Clips

Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR
Last Modified: February 24, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

In May 2000, I had a lumpectomy done. I had a clip left in my breast to mark the location of the procedure. Is it possible to be allergic to this clip? I am very aware of this breast and have the sensation that feels like I'm being pinched inside that breast or stuck with a pin. My recent mammogram says everything is all right. The breast is not painful but at times it is uncomfortable to lie directly on that breast.  


Answer

Lawrence J. Solin, MD, FACR, Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The surgeon often places surgical clips to mark the area of the primary tumor to help the radiation oncologist deliver the radiation treatment to the proper location. These clips are well tolerated by patients. Surgical clips are widely used by surgeons in many locations in the body, including the breast.

Since the cancer treatment was done less than two years ago, other explanations are more likely. One possible explanation is that the feelings and sensations described are related to the healing process after surgery plus radiation. Another possible explanation is that sensory nerves can be cut during the surgery, and this can lead to sensations that are perceived as different. These sensory changes often resolve (although sometimes slowly) over time.

Speak with your doctor about trying a mild pain or anti-inflammatory medication if the discomfort is really bothering you, as these medicines can sometimes help considerably.




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