Extensive nodal disease may impair axillary reverse mapping in patients with breast cancer

Riccardo Ponzone, Nicoletta Tomasi Cont, Furio Maggiorotto, Elisa Cassina, Paola Mininanni, Nicoletta Biglia, Piero Sismondi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The aim of axillary reverse mapping (ARM) is to preserve arm lymphatics in patients with breast cancer who underwent surgical axillary staging. Patients and Methods: From June 2007 to December 2008, 49 patients who required axillary dissection (AD) underwent ARM. One milliliter of patent blue dye was injected in the ipsilateral arm, and all blue nodes identified during AD were sent separately for pathologic examination. Main variables associated with the detection rates of blue lymphatics, the pathologic status of blue and nonblue nodes, and the complications of the procedure were analyzed. Results: Identification rates of blue lymphatics and blue nodes were 73.5% and 55.1%, respectively. Blue node identification was influenced by the time elapsed between injection of blue dye and surgery (P = .002) but not by the learning curve of the procedure. Although the blue node was clear of metastases in 24 of 27 patients, three patients with extensive nodal metastatic involvement (ie, pN2a and pN3a) showed breast cancer metastatic cells in the blue nodes as well. The only adverse effect of the procedure was skin tattooing at the injection site, which disappeared within 4 months in almost 80% of the procedures. Conclusion: In patients with clinically negative axillary nodes, additional study is warranted to assess whether ARM may be used to spare the lymphatics from the arm. In the presence of extensive nodal disease, this technique may identify metastatic blue nodes, which demonstrates that there is not reliable separation of arm and breast lymphatic pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5547-5551
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - Nov 20 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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