Swollen lymph nodes visualized on mammography and ultrasound appear days post-vaccination and could be mistaken for malignancies.

Patients who receive either the Pzifer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can experience swollen lymph nodes that could be mistaken for breast malignancies, new research has found.

In an article featuring four case studies, published this week in Clinical Imaginginvestigators from Weill Cornell Medicine outlined the appearance of new unilateral axillary adenopathies seen on ultrasound in patients who recently received the first dose of the vaccine.

Hyperplastic axillary nodes are common after the administration of a vaccine that prompts a strong immune response, including the current COVID-19 vaccines. Consequently, radiologists should keep this side effect in mind when viewing breast images, said the team led by Nishi Mehta, M.D., a Weill Cornell body and breast imaging fellow.

“It is important for radiologists to consider recent COVID-19 vaccination history as a possible differential diagnosis for patients with unilateral axillary adenopathy,” the team said. “As COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available to a larger patient population, radiologists should be familiar with the imaging features of COVID-19 vaccine induced hyperplastic adenopathy and its inclusion in a differential for unilateral axillary adenopathy.”

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