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SLNB, oncological safety, tumoral involvement, axillary reverse mapping
Background: In an attempt to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema following breast cancer surgery, some researchers suggested that by identifying and preserving the lymphatic plexus which drains ipsilateral arm we can minimize the risk of lymphedema. The procedure is known as axillary reverse mapping (ARM). In the current study, we investigated the oncological safety of this technique.
Methods: A total of 60 patients who were undergoing axillary lymph node dissection were involved. The indications for axillary dissection were whether clinically node-positive axilla or positive sentinel lymph node biopsy. ARM was performed by injecting 2 ml of methylene blue subcutaneously in the upper and medial part of ipsilateral patients’ arm along the intermuscular groove.
Results: ARM nodes were identified by means of methylene blue injection in 51(85%) patients (identification rate = 85%). For the subgroup of clinically positive axillary lymph nodes, identification rate was 93.1%, and the corresponding figure was 77.4% for positive SLNB group (P = 0.148). Pathological evaluation of harvested ARM nodes demonstrated metastatic involvement in 8(27.5%) and 1(3.2%) patients in clinically positive and SLNB positive groups respectively (P = 0.026).
Conclusions: Based on the findings of this study it seems that ARM could be considered as a safe procedure in patients who are a candidate for ALND when SLNB is positive. In contrast, in patients with clinically positive axillary nodes, there is a considerable risk of tumoral metastasis in ARM nodes.