Skin and fat necrosis of the breast following methylene blue dye injection for sentinel node biopsy in a patient with breast cancer

Int Semin Surg Oncol. 2005 Nov 28;2:26. doi: 10.1186/1477-7800-2-26.


Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a simple technique that uses subdermal or peri-tumoral injection of vital blue dye and/or radioactive isotope to identify the first lymph node(s) draining the primary tumor. It has been shown to accurately predict axillary node status in patients with clinically node negative breast cancer. The SLNB is emerging as a new standard of care in patients with early breast cancer. However, the use of methylene blue (MB) dye can be associated with a number of local complications due to its tissue reactive properties. We report a rare case of skin and fat necrosis followed by a dry gangrene of the skin in a female patient with breast cancer who underwent SLNB localization using peri-tumoral injection of MB dye in another institution. This case and literature review suggest that the use of MB dye for SLNB identification should be avoided and replaced with alternative types of blue dye such as Patent Blue V preferably in conjunction with a radioactive isotope tracer.