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Breast or lymph node clip placement: Care instructions

Breast or lymph node clip placement

Care instructions

What is a clip placement?

A marker called a clip is placed in the breast, lymph node, or both. It's used to locate and mark an area of concern that your doctor found on a mammogram or ultrasound. After chemotherapy shrinks the tumour and lymph node, the doctor can still find these areas of concern and remove them.

What should I know before a clip placement?

You may eat before the appointment. The procedure will take about 1 hour.

Please tell the radiologist or technologists if you:

  • have a history of bleeding problems
  • take blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), or Xarelto
  • take an anti-inflammatory such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS) like Advil, Motrin, or Aleve
  • are allergic to local freezing, tape, latex, or pain medicine
  • take herbal products such as glucosamine sulphate, vitamin E, ginkgo biloba

Don’t use pain medicines that contain aspirin or ibuprofen in the 7 days before your clip placement. If you need pain medicine, it's safe to use acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Ask your healthcare provider if you should stop taking anti-inflammatories before this procedure. These medicines can interfere with blood clotting, which can cause bleeding during or after the clip placement.

If you take blood thinners, talk to your healthcare provider before any procedure. Blood thinners can lead to a higher risk of bleeding.

What happens during a clip placement?

For the clip placement:

  • You'll be asked to lie on your back on a padded table.
  • An ultrasound of your breast, lymph node, or both is done to find the area of concern.
  • Your skin, at the area the clip will go in, will be cleaned with a cool antiseptic solution.
  • Local anesthetic (numbing medicine) will be injected to freeze or numb the area where the clip will be put in. This may sting for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • The clip will be guided into your breast or armpit while the radiologist is doing the ultrasound. You may feel some pressure as the clip is being put in.

What happens after the procedure?

The clip placement site will be covered with a light gauze dressing or a bandage. You can take this off in 24 hours.

A gentle mammogram will be done after the clip placement.

If you have any discomfort, you may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you need to.

Take it easy for the rest of the day. You can go back to your regular activities after the clip placement if you feel up to it.

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Current as of: May 20, 2023

Author: Diagnostic Imaging, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.