Sentinel lymph node biopsy is feasible even after total mastectomy

Mattia Intra, Paolo Veronesi, Oreste D. Gentilini, Giuseppe Trifirò, Anastasio Berrettini, Rafaela Cecilio, Marco Colleoni, Mario Rietjens, Alberto Luini, Giovanni Pacanelli, Umberto Veronesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Previous mastectomy is unanimously considered to represent an absolute technical contraindication to sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). Methods: Four patients who underwent total mastectomy and plastic reconstruction with prosthesis, developed, during the follow up, a unique invasive limited local subdermic recurrence amenable to surgical excision, with clinically negative axillary nodes. In all patients preoperative lymphoscintigraphy with subdermal injection of 99mTc-labeled colloidal particles correctly showed an axillary sentinel lymph node (SLN). Results: Metastases in SLN were detected in two patients, and a complete axillary dissection followed. The remaining two patients had a negative SLN and no axillary clearance was performed. Conclusions: In selected cases, the subdermal injection of radioisotope permits the identification of an axillary SLN, even in mastectomized patients. Despite SLNB in mastectomized patients being technically feasible, only a larger population and longer patient follow up could confirm its true predictive value. However, there are no anatomical or physiological reasons to exclude "a priori" this diagnostic opportunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-179
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2007


  • Axillary sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Breast cancer
  • Previous total mastectomy
  • Tumor recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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