Preoperative axillary ultrasound scan: its accuracy in assessing the axillary nodal status in carcinoma breast

Breast. 2002 Feb;11(1):49-52. doi: 10.1054/brst.2001.0352.


The aim of this study is to report the accuracy of ultrasound scan in axillary node staging in breast carcinoma. Eighty-four patients with breast cancer attending a breast clinic were entered in this study and axillary ultrasound scan was performed using a 7.5 MHz probe. The sensitivity of ultrasound scan in detection of axillary nodal metastasis was 74% with a specificity of 89%, positive predictive value of 87%, negative predictive value of 84% and overall accuracy of 83%. The sensitivity was low (38%) when nodes were small or non-palpable. The Likelihood Ratio (LR) for the test positive was 6.37 and the LR for the test negative was 0.29. The combined assessment (Clinical Examination+Ultrasound scan+FNA) of axillary node status was very sensitive--88%, with a specificity of 100%, positive predictive value of 100%, negative predictive value of 88% and overall accuracy of 92%. Ultrasound scan of axilla is a valuable method of preoperatively assessing axillary nodal status, and may prove useful in managing patients with breast cancer.