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Radiology. 1989 Aug;172(2):453-7.

Parasternal sonography of the internal mammary vessels: technique, normal anatomy, and lymphadenopathy.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, DePaul Medical Center, Norfolk, VA.


Metastasis to the internal mammary lymph nodes adversely affects the disease-free interval and long-term survival in women with breast carcinoma. Since staging of disease in this lymphatic chain is rarely performed at the time of definitive surgical treatment, noninvasive methods have been advocated. The authors present their preliminary experience with a sonographic technique for evaluating the internal mammary lymph nodes, artery, and vein. Longitudinal and transverse images of the first through fourth parasternal rib interspaces were acquired with a 5.0- or 7.5-MHz linear-array real-time system. The method was evaluated prospectively in 36 control subjects and in seven patients (six with metastatic breast cancer and one with lymphocytic lymphoma) who had enlarged internal mammary lymph nodes at thoracic computed tomography (CT). The longitudinal scans routinely demonstrated the internal mammary vessels in the upper interspaces. Lymphatic structures were not identified in the control group. In contrast, sonographic findings corresponding to the CT findings of lymphadenopathy were present in all seven patients. The authors believe that parasternal sonography is a promising technique that merits further study.

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