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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Feb;119(3):529-35. doi: 10.1007/s10549-009-0578-8.

Axillary reverse mapping for breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Kanazawa Medical University Hospital, Uchinada-daigaku 1-1, Ishikawa 920-0293, Japan.


The axillary reverse mapping (ARM) technique has been developed to map and preserve arm lymphatic drainage during axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) and/or sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy, thereby minimizing arm lymphedema. However, several problems remain to be resolved in the practical application of this technique. This article presents a review of current knowledge regarding ARM and discusses the practical applicability and relevance of this technique. Identification rates of ARM nodes were insufficient using blue dye. Although this was improved using radioisotopes, radioisotopes alone do not permit visual mapping of ARM lymphatics. Fluorescence imaging may be useful to improve the identification rate of ARM nodes and lymphatics. On the other hand, the ARM nodes may be involved with metastatic foci in patients with extensive axillary lymph node metastases. Moreover, the SLN draining the breast may be the same as the ARM node draining the upper extremity in a minority of patients. These issues represent important drawbacks of the ARM procedure. The success of ARM in reducing lymphedema has not yet been determined. Further studies are needed before this can be accepted as a standard procedure in surgical management of breast cancer.

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