To compare patients with visualized sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) and patients with nonvisualized SLNs, with a focus on variables affecting SLN visualization at preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and on nodal drainage basins as related to tumor location.One hundred thirty-six patients who had breast cancer underwent preoperative lymphoscintigraphy before SLN biopsy. Patients with visualized and nonvisualized SLNs were compared for age; tumor site, size, and histologic findings; injection guidance method; diagnostic biopsy type; interval between biopsy and lymphoscintigraphy; intraoperative identification method; and surgical identification rate. Visualized SLN drainage basins were noted.Ninety-nine patients had visualized and 37 had nonvisualized SLNs, without statistically significant differences in tumor site, size, and histologic findings; injection guidance method; diagnostic biopsy type; and interval between biopsy and lymphoscintigraphy. Ninety-nine (73%) of the 136 SLNs were visualized at lymphoscintigraphy; 30 (81%) of the 37 nonvisualized SLNS were identified at surgery. Of the seven SLNs not identified at surgery, five were mapped with radiocolloid only. Patients with nonvisualized SLNs were older than those with visualized SLNs. Eleven (46%) of 24 tumors with internal mammary drainage were in the outer part of the breast.Patients with and those without visualization differed in age, SLN identification at surgery, and surgical identification method. Nonvisualized status does not preclude axillary metastasis. In older patients with nonvisualized SLNs, blue dye may aid in SLN detection, as compared with isotope-only localization.
View details for Web of Science ID 000169468400007
View details for PubMedID 11425971