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J Med Case Rep. 2008 Oct 17;2:332. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-2-332.

Psychiatric disorder associated with vacuum-assisted breast biopsy clip placement: a case report.

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Breast Unit, Department of Propaedeutic Surgery, Hippokratio Hospital, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Vas Sofias Avenue, Athens, Greece.



Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy is a minimally invasive technique that has been used increasingly in the treatment of mammographically detected, non-palpable breast lesions. Clip placement at the biopsy site is standard practice after vacuum-assisted breast biopsy.


We present the case of a 62-year-old woman with suspicious microcalcifications in her left breast. The patient was informed about vacuum-assisted breast biopsy, including clip placement. During the course of taking the patient's history, she communicated excellently, her demeanor was normal, she disclosed no intake of psychiatric medication and had not been diagnosed with any psychiatric disorders. Subsequently, the patient underwent vacuum-assisted breast biopsy (11 G) under local anesthesia. A clip was placed at the biopsy site. The pathological diagnosis was of sclerosing adenosis. At the 6-month mammographic follow-up, the radiologist mentioned the existence of the metallic clip in her breast. Subsequently, the woman presented complaining about "being spied [upon] by an implanted clip in [her] breast" and repeatedly requested the removal of the clip. The patient was referred to the specialized psychiatrist of our breast unit for evaluation. The Mental State Examination found that systematized paranoid ideas of persecutory type dominated her daily routines. At the time, she believed that the implanted clip was one of several pieces of equipment being used to keep her under surveillance, the other equipment being her telephone, cameras and television. Quite surprisingly, she had never had a consultation with a mental health professional. The patient appeared depressed and her insight into her condition was impaired. The prevalent diagnosis was schizotypal disorder, whereas the differential diagnosis comprised delusional disorder of persecutory type, affective disorder with psychotic features or comorbid delusional disorder with major depression.


This is the first report of a psychiatric disorder being brought to the fore using a vacuum-assisted breast biopsy clip. Vacuum-assisted breast biopsy, and breast biopsy in general, represent a significant experience, encompassing anxiety and pain; it may thus aggravate psychiatric conditions. Apart from these well-established factors, other aspects, such as the clip, may occasionally become significant. In a modern breast unit, the evaluation of patients should be multidisciplinary. A psychiatrist may be needed for optimal management of anxiety-related issues, as well as for the detection of psychiatric disorders.

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