Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Sentinel Node Imaging - Breast

This scan is used to detect and localize the lymphatic drainage of the breast tissue. This allows early detection of lymph nodes that may have been involved in the spread of breast cancer. Knowing this information assists the surgeons in minimizing the amount of tissue removed from the patient during lumpectomy or mastectomy. This test is performed on the same day the patient is scheduled for surgery.

This scan involves the injection of a radioactive tracer in a series of four to eight needles about the affected breast tissue (breast mass site). Pictures will be taken of the breast tissue and lymph nodes using various positioning techniques.

Preparation

  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take. This includes vitamins, herbal remedies, and holistic medications.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

  • The procedure takes about one hour.
  • A technologist will briefly explain the test to you and try to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
  • A technologist will ask you a few questions about your medical history and medications.
  • You must change into a hospital gown, removing everything from the waist up.
  • The nuclear medicine doctor will inject the tracer in small needle picks about the affected breast tissue.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a bed.
  • Pictures will be taken of the breasts and lymph drainage using various positioning techniques.