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Acta Chir Belg. 2005 May-Jun;105(3):291-6.

The role of sentinel lymph node biopsy with blue dye alone in breast cancer patients with excisional biopsy.

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Istanbul University, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Department of Surgery, Capa, Istanbul, Turkey.



Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) appears to offer an excellent alternative method to routine axillary lymph node dissection for staging patients with breast cancer. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of excisional biopsy on identification and false negative rate of sentinel lymph node biopsy with blue dye alone in breast cancer patients with clinically negative axilla.


From March 1998 to March 2003, 266 consecutive sentinel lymph node biopsies (SLNB) were performed using isosulfan blue dye alone. Patients were divided into two groups. One hundred and four patients (39.1%) had previously undergone an excisional biopsy (Group I); in 162 patients (60.9%), pre-operative diagnosis was obtained by either fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) or core biopsy (Group II). Following sentinel lymph node biopsy, all patients had axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Data concerning patients, sentinel lymph nodes and the status of the axilla were collected and compared using Fisher's exact test. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


The sentinel lymph node was successfully identified by blue dye in 94.3% (251/266) of patients. Mean lymph nodes removed from the axilla was 19 (range 11-36) and the mean number of sentinel nodes was 2 (range 1-5). The identification and false negative rate were unrelated to size, type or location of the tumour, or a previous surgical biopsy.


SLNB with blue dye for evaluation of the axilla is a rapid and accurate technique that provides increased efficacy in the detection of lymphatic metastasis when careful pathologic evaluation with serial sections is performed. The risk-benefit analysis of lymphatic mapping with blue dye provides improvement in staging, with reduced morbidity and hospital stay, and the elimination of general anaesthesia. The technique may also be used safely and accurately in breast cancer patients with excisional biopsy.

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