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Bloodwork and blood pressure readings for mastectomy patients

Mastectomy patients often need to have blood drawn or have their blood pressure measured. Performing these procedures on the same side as a mastectomy carries a risk of secondary lymphedema in that extremity if the lymph nodes have been removed. With many newer procedures, only a lumpectomy is performed, which does not involve the lymph nodes. Blood pressures and venipunctures can safely be done on these patients on the operative side. We are seeing more female patients who have elected to have bilateral prophylactic mastectomies to avoid breast cancer. Because this operation is not being performed for cancer treatment, lymph node removal is not necessary. In the patient who has had a radical mastectomy with lymph node dissection and is at least five years post-op with no evidence of lymphedema, procedures can be done on the operative side without complications. However, it's wise to obtain a physician's order prior to procedures on the operative side of patients who have had lymph node dissection.

Marie Lasater, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNRN

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