Sentinel Lymph Node Lowers the Rate of Lympedema When Compared with Standard Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

Golshan, Mehra; Martin, W. Jason; Dowlatshani, Kambiz
March 2003
American Surgeon;Mar2003, Vol. 69 Issue 3, p209
Academic Journal
Arm edema occurs in 20 to 30 per cent of patients who undergo axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for carcinoma of the breast. Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) in lieu of ALND for staging of breast cancer significantly lowers this morbidity. We hypothesized that SLNB would have a lower lymphedema rate than conventional axillary dissection. Patients who underwent SLNB were compared with those who underwent level I and II axillary node dissection. A total of 125 patients were evaluated with 77 patients who underwent SLNB and 48 patients who underwent ALND. The arm circumference 10 cm above and 10 cm below the olecranon process was measured on both arms. In this series a difference in arm circumference greater than 3 cm between the operated and nonoperated side was defined as significant for lymphedema. Lymphedema was seen in two of 77 (2.6%) patients in the SLNB group as compared with 13 of 48 (27%) ALND patients. Given the above data patients who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy show a significantly lower rate of lymphedema than those who had axillary lymph node dissection. This has an important impact on long-term postoperative management of patients with breast cancer.


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