Role of axillary ultrasound examination in the selection of breast cancer patients for sentinel node biopsy

Am J Surg. 2007 Jan;193(1):16-20. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2006.02.021.


Background: Sentinel node biopsy (SNB) is a time-consuming procedure that can be avoided in presence of axillary metastases. The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of ultrasound scan (US) in the prediction of axillary nodes status in patients scheduled for SNB.

Methods: Axillary US was performed and when feasible, a core biopsy of suspicious nodes was taken. The nodal status as assessed by US and/or core biopsy was compared with final histology.

Results: Of the 132 patients enrolled, 31 (23.5%) had suspicious axillary nodes according to US; 19 (61.3%) were true positive, whereas 12 cases (38.7%) were not. In 14 of 31 suspicious cases an US-guided core-biopsy was taken, which in 11 of 14 cases (78.5%) confirmed the neoplastic involvement. Overall, core biopsy of the nodes correctly predicted the final histology in 13 of 14 cases (92.8%).

Conclusions: The US of axillary nodes, possibly associated with core biopsy, improved the preoperative evaluation of breast cancer patients scheduled for SNB.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Axilla / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy*
  • Ultrasonography