You will need to take off clothing near
the biopsy site. You will wear a gown for a covering during the test.
If you are very anxious about the biopsy, you may be given a medicine
(sedative) to help you relax.
Before a sentinel node biopsy is
done, the dye or tracer is injected into the area, and a special camera
(lymphoscintigraphy) takes pictures of the lymph nodes. Some doctors use pain medicine with the dye to reduce discomfort. The dye may turn your
skin blue for a few days after the biopsy.
The first lymph node or
nodes to absorb the tracer are called the sentinel nodes. This node or nodes
and the tissue around them are taken out. You may have a numbing medicine
(local anesthesia) or go to sleep for the biopsy. The
lymph node sample is cut into many thin slices and looked at under a microscope
for cancer. You will have some stitches and a bandage over the biopsy site.
A sentinel lymph node biopsy usually takes 30 to 60 minutes but
may take longer. If you have general anesthesia, you will be watched by a nurse
in the recovery room until you are fully awake.
Your doctor will
give you specific instructions to take care of your biopsy site. During your
follow-up visit, your doctor will discuss the results of your biopsy with you
and take out your stitches.