How Your Vaccine Could Affect Your Mammogram
One of the most common side effects related to the COVID-19 vaccines is swollen lymph nodes. In many cases, the swelling is so subtle that the patient would not even notice it. But even a mild case of lymph node swelling can cause some confusion during a mammogram.
Under normal circumstances, when a radiologist sees a swollen lymph node on a mammogram, he or she recommends a follow-up mammogram and an ultrasound. The vaccination side effect is causing more follow-ups and ultrasounds than normal.
In the radiology and imaging departments at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, we are taking several steps to ensure we have the information we need to treat patients appropriately without ordering unnecessary tests.
- Patients are encouraged to have their mammogram prior to their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine when possible. Call 802-447-5541, option 2, to see if we can get you your annual mammogram before you receive the vaccine.
- Before performing mammograms, we are asking patients about their vaccine history, including when they received their vaccine and in which arm.
- While we would prefer that patients not delay their mammograms, the Society of Breast Imaging recently recommended that patients who have had their second COVID-19 vaccine wait 6 weeks before having their screening mammogram.
- If you have symptomatic reasons to proceed with your mammogram and diagnostic work-up, we encourage you to do so, despite your vaccination timing.
By scheduling carefully and keeping our patients vaccine history in mind, we can ensure all mammogram patients receive the follow-up they need.
Dr. James Keenan is a radiologist with Radiology Associates of Bennington at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.