Got Clips? They're Safe

When a woman has a minimally invasive breast biopsy, such as a core or stereotactic breast biopsy, the standard of care is to place a tiny stainless steel or titanium clip on the spot where the tissue was sampled.

I get lots of calls about these clips from women who are worried that the clips may harm them. Here's what they, and perhaps you, want to know:

  1. "Why is there a clip in my breast?" The clip serves as a landmark to identify the area that was biopsied on future mammograms. If there's ever a need for surgical removal of more tissue, then the surgeon can use the clip as a bull's-eye marker during surgery.

  2. "Can I have the clip removed?" You could but you shouldn't. The clip will be automatically removed if the surgeon does an open excisional procedure on that area. But removing it just to get it out of your body will make it harder for a radiologist to read your future mammograms.

  3. "Will the clip set off metal detectors?" No, you don't need to worry that alarms will be set off that will make you late for a flight or require you to carry a special card in your wallet saying you have a clip.

  4. "Do clips cause breast pain?" No. Any pain you experience after a breast biopsy is related to the procedure, not to the placement of a clip. It's also highly unusual that someone will be allergic to such a clip.

  5. "I think I can feel the clip moving." This is doubtful, as the clip is the size of a pinhead.

Many women are surprised to learn that they may have been living with such clips for years. If you've ever had any abdominal surgery, for example, you could have as many as 200 much larger clips in your abdominal cavity. So, got a clip in your breast? Good. It marks the spot for future evaluation of what we hope was a benign finding.

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