Lymphoscintigraphy Does Not Enhance Sentinel Node Identification or Alter Management of Patients With Early Breast Cancer

Angela Shoher, Amna Diwan, Bin S. Teh, Hsin H. Lu, Ron Fisher, Anthony Lucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Summary: Lymphoscintigraphy (LS) is often performed before sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) for breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to determine whether routine LS enhances rate of identification of sentinel nodes (SN), and if findings on LS alter either the SLND procedure or the subsequent patient management. Methods: LS using technetium-99m sulfur colloid (99mTc) was performed in 136 consecutive patients undergoing SLND for invasive breast cancer. Three equal aliquots of 99mTc were injected peritumorally, and LS images were obtained at 60 to 120 min after 99mTc injection. Data were collected on the success of LS to visualize SN. Information regarding body mass index (BMI), biopsy type (core vs excisional), tumor location (medial vs lateral), and SN positivity were recorded and comparison was made with success of operative SN identification. In all SLND cases, 1% lymphazurin blue dye was used in addition to the 99mTc. Results: LS failed to identify an SN in 9 of 136 cases (6.6%). Failed mappings did not correlate with biopsy type, tumor location, or SN positivity. There was a positive correlation between increased BMI and failed LS (p = <0.001). Failed LS did not predict operative SLND failure, as an SN was identified in 100% of cases (136/136), including the 9 with a failed LS. In 67% (6/9) of the failed LS, the SN was both hot and blue at operation. Internal mammary (IM) drainage was observed in 4% (6/136) of LS. Positive SN were found in 26% (35/136) of patients. Findings on LS did not affect adjuvant treatment decisions in any patient. Conclusions: There was a correlation between failed LS and BMI, but no correlation with biopsy type or tumor location. Drainage to extraaxillary sites was rare. LS findings did not enhance success of intraoperative identification of SN or alter the postoperative management of patients with early stage breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-212
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006


  • breast cancer
  • lymphatic mapping
  • lymphoscintigraphy
  • sentinel lymph node dissection
  • sentinel node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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