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DON"T use arm on side of surgery

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I was told do not use left arm for blood take/ blood pressure/IV etc...so 2 questions:
>>I had lumpectomy but what do you do if double mastectomy for example?

>>also: I have had 2 different anesthesist said NOT true can use either arm...

so who do you believe? Since I am not sure I just DON"T USE left side....and I have bad veins SO really hard to get blood and IV..


mwallace1325's picture
Posts: 806
Joined: Apr 2009

I was told by the clinical trial nurse when I first started treatment not to even wear a tight watch or rings (hard to get a replacement wedding ring). Since then I've gotten a medical alert bracelet for that arm that hasn't come off ever. I know my husband wouldn't remember in a crisis that nothing is supposed to happen on that side. I've never had a medical professional argue or contradict me when I told them they couldn't use my left arm.

Not sure what women who've had a double mastectomy are told, but good question.


Posts: 148
Joined: Jun 2011

I don't know if this is the rule, but when I had the shattered upper arm on the side opposite to my mastectomy, they took my blood pressure on my calf. It tends to be higher there, for some reason.

butterflylvr's picture
Posts: 944
Joined: Apr 2011

I posted a similar topic of conversation a few months back. From the helpful information our beautiful pink sisters provided me (I have a double mastectomy, Cancer left side, sentinel node removal both sides)is no blood pressure checks or blood draws from the side that had a lot of lymph nodes removed.

Since my cancer is left side, I can use my right side. If nodes were removed from both sides the foot and leg is usually used although blood pressure readings aren't always as accurate down there but blood still pumps to the ankle.

I am sure those lovely ladies will be chiming in with more input..

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I was going to buy medic braclet but I was told to not bother! Some argue..I JUST say this is what I WAS told by my dr..each year I get a colonscopy (yes so far 20 of them) + all surgeries..YES many of them too...I always have them put a different color wrist band to remind them...ONCE I am knocked out..


BetsyJane's picture
Posts: 127
Joined: Aug 2011

My lumpectomy was performed on my left side --- and I was told NOT to use my left arm for any type of tests.....blood test, blood pressure, etc.

Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

Surgery side should not be used based on everything I've been told/read.

With a bilateral mast - not sure as I had a unilateral one - so never talked to my Dr about what if. I have reaad in some places tht as long as the one side was prophalactic and no nodes involved on that side , BP and blood draws can be done on that side. That's just what I read. BP and blood draws can be done on legs.

epark's picture
Posts: 339
Joined: Aug 2011

on the side where they remove the nodes.


Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

Each time I go for blood work..I say bad veins and RIGHT arm ONLY! After few attempts say to me..Let me see your other arm! I go to same lab and most of the time same tech...i know she sees many but I TELL her at the start. 99% of the time they get it from back of hand!


skipper54's picture
Posts: 936
Joined: Feb 2011

He said to protect the arm, using the other side for BP and needles. The concern is for infection on the side where lymph nodes were removed. Also said to try and avoid burns and insect bites for teh same reason. Without all the lymph nodes the toxins and fluid build-up can't be removed as efficiently. He wasn't sure that the BP was as big a deal but felt it's always better to be safe than sorry. I'm still watching how much I lift with that arm as well. I did get a bracelet for that arm "just in case" I was out of it for any reason because I travel for various reasons when my hubby isn't along. I was told by those with bi-laterals that they use leg for bp and blood draws. I would sooner err on the side of caution than regret it later.

butterflylvr's picture
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Joined: Apr 2011

I believe when it comes to having your blood pressure taken, they choose the side where there were no lymph nodes removed. For the fact that those blood pressure cuffs after being fully inflated really apply a strong amount of pressure to that arm and the risk of lymphodemia can result or increase if that arm is constantly used.

LoveBabyJesus's picture
Posts: 1680
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi Denise!

I was also told not to use the arm where they removed nodes for blood or pressure. Interesting enough, they drew blood out of my hand, on that arm because the other arm was beat up from taking chemo (didn't get a port). So I will probably cheat a little, and do blood there until my other veins heal (from the healthy side).

Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Twice was told the same thing at pre surgery ward. Oh we cant IV you etc from my first mastectomy side and they put a tag on me before rolling me down to surgery. The surgeon said 'I wish they'd stop putting these bands on our patients wrists we can IV you either side and take blood pressure etc through the surgery on either side also'. Now have bilateral so they have to use one of the two!!!!!! When the plastic surgeon 'balanced me out' the last time they IV'd me on the side my first surgery had been done, which made no difference really as the two mastectomys were only a month apart. Found a few things between the ward staff and the anesthesiologist/surgeons differed. You would think they'd communicate better.

mamolady's picture
Posts: 796
Joined: May 2011

I was told by the LE specialist that the BP was more of a risk for LE than the needle stick as most places use universal precautions and infection from needles is rare.
If you have lymph nodes removed, you have the risk of LE on that side. I had them removed on both sides. (fewer on the left) I have my BP checked on the calf. I think it is 10 - 12 % higher than the arm.
I would use the side that had no surgery unless there is some reason it can not be used. The medic alert is a good idea since you had the lumpectomy. I will get one eventually, I figure for now, they will be cautious since I have had bilateral mastectomy and no recon yet.


Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

Thanks all...


robinneer's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2014

I had a lumpectomy on my left breast in 2012. 

I was never told about these precautions! I had an accident in January of this year that left me with a open double compound fracture on my left leg, fractured right ankle, broken tail bone and my L1 was destroyed. After two surgeries I am (by the Grace of God) 95% healed and only have a slight limp and back aches. 

I was was in the hospital for almost a month and follow ups since then and no one has told me about the precautions regarding my lumpectomy. Since being home from this accident my blood pressure has been high and all over the chart even with blood pressure meds. 

I've always had low blood pressure and I couldn't understand why it stayed so high now. I took my blood pressure last night using the right arm and it was Normal! I will monitor it a few more days and if it stays normal, will request stopping blood pressure medicine. 

By the way, just had diagnostic mammogram and I am still cancer-free.

Posts: 155
Joined: Oct 2014

Had bilateral with lymph nodes on the right side taken.   Was told NOTHING in right arm.   I have a medical bracelet and it has already alerted medical professionals twice now - although I would have told them - they saw the bracelet and realized right away.     When I was in the hospital they gave me a bright pink bracelet and had a big sign over my bed - nothign on right side. I have a compression sleeve & gauntlet for the right side - generally have to wear the sleeve at night due to use of my arm so much at work

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010



Wow so sorry to hear of all you went through.


I was told not to use left arm since nodes taken out and increase my chances of lympoma....OF course if I have an emergency they would use what ever arm they can get a vien.


Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Funny you should mention that.  All my surgeries and doctor visits was told by nurses, no no cant take BP or blood on side of surgery.  The actual surgeons over and over said why do they keep saying that it is not true.    You repeat that fact to the nurses they just look at you in disbelief.  

I had bilateral and they just do it either side......

GlowMore's picture
Posts: 794
Joined: Feb 2008

With your bilateral do they take any lymph nodes Roz?  I just had a lumpectomy on left side of left breast and then a lymphectomy under left arm....they got 19 nodes and 6 had cancer so had to do the full treatments.    I know that today they don't have to do the lymph node scoop anylonger because of the Sentinel Node factor. They told me NEVER anything on my left arm however....both doctors and nurses.   Reading all these old posts from several years ago and then the later ones made me realize I might be smart to get an alert bracelet for that left arm....I notice it does swell from being used during the day...but I have been lucky and not had any full blown problems (yet) and for that I am very grateful.  

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