Pacemaker and Mammogram

I had to have a 3D mammogram completed because of suspicious calcifications just under my pace maker. The radiologist was not safisfied with the digitial pictures because the pacemaker kept obscuring the small calcifications. She told me to come back in 6 months for another mammiogram.

She did mention surgery as another alternative. But the surgeon would be unable to pin point the area of calcification with a wire. So that would mean they would have to "hunt" around as they carved my breast to find the calcifications. She also mentioned temporarily removing the pace maker to have a better look. All of this seems very invasive to me. She stated that the calcifications could be a result of tissue damage from the 2 pacemakers being implanted.

What are your thoughts? Has anyone else had this same problem?  Thanks in advance for your help.  



by Tracey_E - 2019-04-02 18:12:53

I had some growths in my old pacemaker pocket, which is next to my current pacemaker pocket so we had concerns about being close to the pacemaker. The radiologist referred me to a breast surgeon for biopsy. He was able to get it with a needle biopsy and ultrasound. So, that's where I'd go next, a breast surgeon who does nothing else. They have a bigger bag of tricks than a radiologist. They also get really backed up! I went down the list my GP gave me and the soonest I could get in with any of them was 3 months, so know that it may not be a fast process.

My ep had me send an interrogation from my home monitor right before and after to make sure the leads weren't damaged, but it wasn't an issue because the surgeon was super careful to stay away from them. He went in from the opposite side he normally would in order to avoid them. 

Pacemaker and Mammogram

by mneuhausel - 2019-04-02 18:42:22

Thanks, Tracey. Glad to hear that you had a decent experience with your breast biopsy. I doubt that I will be able to have a needle biopsy because these are tiny "stones" rather than a lump. But I can check it out to know for sure. What you said about getting a surgeon's opinion makes sense. Maybe the surgeon would be able to better figure out how the surgery could be done in the most effective way. I just don't want someone slicing and dicing my breast without knowing exactly where to cut.  If they can't come up with a decent plan of attack, I would take the gamble of waiting 6 months and having repeat mammograms done to see if there is a differnece in size and number of the calcifications. (When I was in my 40s I had some calcifications surgically removed after a wire was inserted pointing to the exact spot to capture the stones. They proved to be benign. So I am thinking that these are beign as well.)

I wish I could stand on my head during the mammogram. Then they would not have the pacemaker obstructing the calcifications and they would get a perfect image! I guess I can only dream. 


by BarbD - 2019-04-03 14:19:19

For both Tracy and mneuhausel:  Forgive my ignorance as I do not have a device impanted yet, but why would there be breast tissue under your device? Isn't it impanted in your upper chest under your collarbone?


by Tracey_E - 2019-04-03 16:07:58

It depends on your build and your surgeon. Mine is lower and deeper than the collarbone so it is out of my way. My first pocket (4 devices) was in the breast tissue, now it's been moved to between the pectorals (current device) so it still shows up on a mammo. 

Pacemaker and Mammogram

by mneuhausel - 2019-04-03 16:55:57

My cardiac surgeon used the same pocket for my 2 pacemaker devices. The top of the pacemaker device is located 2 inches lower than the collar bone. The bottom of the device meets the breast tissue below. My pacemaker shows up on a mammogram. 

i have decided to seek a surgical opinion to find out what can be done to address the calcifications obscured  by the pacemaker. 

You know you're wired when...

Your old device becomes a paper weight for your desk.

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