View Full Version : can mammogram compression cause lymphedema?

10-13-2004, 11:06 AM
dr. leo - this is a question for you, although maybe someone else seeing this might have an answer.

we are constantly told no blood pressure on the affected side as it can possibly set off or exacerbate lymphedema. yet i just had a mammo that has left the affected arm numb and throbbing and i started wondering if something like this can set off lymphedema in women too. of course, there aren't too many other options, but i am wondering about what kind of damage can possibly be done by being clamped into these machines under tremendous pressure - it seems the force is way stronger than a bp cuff. ever hear any discussion on this?


10-14-2004, 03:33 AM

Thanks for your post. You pose an interesting question. I am really not sure if it can exacerbate lymphedema. It can certainly traumatize the breast tissue and cause pain, but I really don't have that answer, as I've never seen it before. I just seached the literature and couldn't find anything.


10-22-2004, 03:46 AM

I am a lymphedema therapist. I have never had a mamogram, so I'm not exactly sure what it entails. However, it is more of a problem if there is compression to the arm or to the lymph nodes in the arm pit, than to the breast tissue. If you would like me to send you a list of lymphedema precautions I'd be happy to do so.


10-22-2004, 10:51 AM
hi temma. i am guessing since you never had a mammogram that you are fairly young. you stand close to the machine, the breast gets put between two plexiglass type plates and then gets compressed until it's flat like a pancake while they take the pictures. there are a few jokes out there on the internet likening it to slamming your boob in a refrigerator door or getting it run over by a truck, and while funny, i think really that's not too far off the mark. :shock:

you hold the position for a few seconds until the picture is taken and the machine releases you. they take both vertical and horizontal shots. usually it's a mildly unpleasant moment which is over quickly, but this last time part of my armpit was caught in the vice (intentionally), including chest muscle, etc. it caused about a week of numbness, which is now fading.

if you work in a medical facility, maybe you could convince a tech to do a dry run on you (without actually taking the pictures) so you could experience it and get a better idea. i do have a list of lymphedema precautions, thankyou, but have never seen a mammo mentioned, which is why i asked. but maybe you would want to post the precautions here for others.



10-31-2004, 08:14 PM
I would think that if you had a complete lymphendectomy in your axilla and your left chest wall, that there would be a chance of upsetting your lymph system when you have a mammogram. The fact is, even if you are retaining water elsewhere in your body, it would affect the lymph system, as that fluid would need places to go. But, I'm just a guessing. :)
I had a mammogram recently, and I didn't have a lymphadema flare-up afterwards, even though I have no nodes under my arm or in my left chest wall, and I've had radiation. I seem to have flare-ups when I lift heavy things or otherwise stress my arm.