Mammograms record swelling of the lymph nodes associated with the coronavirus vaccine
Some women who received COVID-19 vaccines have seen swelling in their lymph nodes picked up by mammograms.
"You have lymph nodes above and below your collarbone," said Dr. Devon Quasha about her experience with the side effect, according to CNN. 'You don't want to feel it. It was scary when I felt it. “
Quasha was scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram after noticing a lump in her left breast, but her radiologist was more concerned about the white blobs showing on her lymph nodes, which the mammogram picked up.
Shortly before Quasha's scheduled mammogram appointment, the Moderna vaccine became available to health professionals. Quasha received the first dose a week before her appointment and after a few days she noticed that her left arm started to hurt.
Quasha then noticed a swelling developing where her lymph nodes were on the left side of her body - the same side where she got the injection. Knowing that lymph nodes are activated when the body fights an infection, she knew it was likely a reaction to the vaccine, but she wasn't sure.
While Quasha and her doctor discussed the findings and chose not to raise the alarm at first, many similar cases occur across the country.
"We all started talking about it, and it was like wildfire," said Dr. Connie Lehman, chief of breast imaging in Massachusetts General's radiology department. "I can't tell you how many women have swollen lymph nodes on the mammograms that people thought would not appear that way."
What doctors found in Quasha's mammogram would typically be of great concern, but similar cases have spread as more women receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The scans have unnecessarily worried some patients, but experts warn that biopsies aren't always necessary.
"We would argue that in this case women don't always need a biopsy," says Dr. Lars Grimm, associate professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medicine . "Because recommending a biopsy is normally the standard procedure when we see swollen lymph nodes in a patient."
"When you hear hoofbeats, don't think about zebras," Lehman agreed. “If a woman on the same side has had a vaccine in the arm and the lymph nodes are swollen, this is a normal biological reaction. It is within expectations. It just doesn't make sense to start imaging. “
Grimm said women may want to receive the biopsy just in case, something that could reassure many of them that there isn't a bigger problem.
"There are women who want a biopsy," he said. You could tell them, 'Hey, I think this is because of your COVID vaccine, and I'm sure it will go away on its own in a few weeks, and it will be fine. 'But that patient says to you,' I'm not going to like to wait. I want to know now. "
Many women will experience similar symptoms as the vaccines become more widely distributed, something Quasha said she found reassuring in her case.
“I was very reassured,” said Quasha. "The point here is that there are some side effects of the vaccine that are not dangerous, but can sometimes increase anxiety in the patient."
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