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J Nucl Med. 2005 Mar;46(3):395-9.

Prospective comparison of 3 gamma-probes for sentinel lymph node detection in 200 breast cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Oncological Surgery, RenĂ© Gauducheau Cancer Center, Saint-Herblain, France.


Previous reports have shown that axillary sentinel lymph node (ASLN) radiodetection allows accurate axillary staging for patients with early breast cancer. Radioguided surgery implies the use of a gamma-probe to count the emitted radioactivity of marked ASLNs. Several gamma-probes are commercially available, each with its own properties. The clinical impact of the type of gamma-probe used for ASLN radiodetection remains to be evaluated.


Three commercially available gamma-probes were evaluated: a scintillator with a bismuth germanate crystal (probe A), a semiconductor with a cadmium telluride crystal (probe B), and a semiconductor with a cadmium zinc telluride crystal (probe C). Two hundred patients with early breast cancer were prospectively enrolled to undergo ASLN radiodetection and axillary lymphadenectomy. ASLN mapping consisted of injecting (99m)Tc-sulfur-colloid around the tumor. For each patient, sentinel lymph nodes were counted successively with the 3 probes and the sensitivity of each gamma-probe was determined from ASLN residual activity. The results of detection rates and false-negative rates for each probe were compared.


Mean residual ASLN activity was 52 kBq (range, 0.07-189 kBq). Sensitivity was compared among the 3 probes and found to be best for probe A. The detection rate of probe A was significantly better than that of probe B (93% vs. 86%, P = 0.05) but not different from that of probe C (93% vs. 90%). No differences in false-negative rates were observed among the 3 probes.


ASLN detection rate depends on the type of gamma-probe used. Because failure to detect the ASLN leads to complete axillary lymphadenectomy, involving local morbidity and other sequelae, the type of gamma-probe must be considered important for sentinel lymph node radiodetection.

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