Precautions After Sentinel Node Biopsy

Last Modified: July 15, 2009

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

What restrictions should be followed after sentinel node biopsy? Do the same rules of lymph node dissection apply (no blood pressures, IVs, or blood draws in the arm)?

Answer

Nancy J. O'Connor, MSN, CRNP, Oncology Nurse Practioner for Breast Surgery at the Rowan Breast Center, responds:

In general, the surgeons at our institution do not have patients who have had sentinel node biopsy follow any special precautions, as the risk of lymphedema is very low.  That being said, the physical therapists here feel differently! Usually if they only a few lymph nodes removed, I tell them to go about things as they normally would.  Once they have 5 or more nodes removed (some people have more sentinel nodes), then I say they can err on the conservative side and avoid blood pressures and IV’s etc on that side if possible.

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