What are the possible complications of axillary dissection in a modified radical mastectomy?

Updated: Jun 18, 2021
  • Author: Nafisa K Kuwajerwala, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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For patients undergoing sentinel lymph node biopsy prior to axillary dissection, there is a risk of anaphylaxis related to the isosulfan blue contrast agent. The anesthesiologist and patient should be aware of this rare complication, which often resolves intraoperatively. [16]

Patients who have undergone a completion axillary dissection have an increased risk of developing lymphedema. [17] They also are at increased risk of numbness under the axilla or even hypersensitization and chronic pain in that area. Patients are encouraged to ambulate the arm early with stretching exercises to prevent decreased shoulder function and scarring of the muscle, which can lead to cording and chronic pain syndromes.

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