Dye-directed sentinel node biopsy (SNB) for breast cancer provides accurate staging with low morbidity, but for tumors distant from the axilla, its use has been questioned.
Can preoperative breast lymphoscintigraphy (BL) applied selectively to medial hemisphere tumors predict a subset of patients who may not require surgical staging of the axilla?
Prospective cohort study.
Tertiary, multidisciplinary breast center.
Thirty-two women with breast tumors located in the medial hemisphere (30) or inframammary crease (2).
Peritumoral injection of 500 µCi of technetium Tc 99m sulfur colloid and biplanar imaging. Nonpalpable lesions were localized with ultrasound or mammography. At the time of definitive breast surgery, isosulfan blue dye-directed SNB was performed. Axillary dissection was performed when the SN contained a tumor or could not be identified.
Main Outcome Measures
Regional nodal basins identified by BL; success rate of SNB.
Preoperative BL demonstrated axillary drainage in 28 patients (88%); 2 patients (6%) had isolated internal mammary radionuclide uptake, and 2 patients had no nodal uptake. Dye-directed axillary SNB succeeded in 27 (87%) of 31 patients, including both patients with failed BL. Breast lymphoscintigraphy had predicted isolated internal mammary drainage in 2 of 4 patients whose SNs could not be identified. Metastases were found in 5 patients (16%).
Axillary radionuclide uptake predicts but does not augment dye-directed SN identification. In those few patients with isolated internal mammary drainage, BL may obviate the need for surgical staging of the axilla.