What is lymphoscintigraphy (sentinel lymph node mapping) for breast cancer?

Updated: Dec 13, 2018
  • Author: Durre Sabih, MBBS, MSc, FRCP(Edin); Chief Editor: Mahan Mathur, MD  more...
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Lymphoscintigraphy (sentinel lymph node mapping) is an imaging technique that is used to identify the lymph drainage basin, determine the number of sentinel nodes, differentiate sentinel nodes from subsequent nodes, locate the sentinel node in an unexpected location, and mark the sentinel node over the skin for biopsy. Lymphoscintigraphy is indicated for proven palpable or nonpalpable invasive breast carcinoma for which removal of the primary tumor and axillary node dissection would be indicated. [1]

Sentinel node mapping is rapidly becoming an alternative staging procedure for the axilla in managing early breast cancer. [2] Several well-conducted studies have provided high-quality evidence for its usefulness. [3] Sentinel node scanning was initially studied in cutaneous melanomas to detect lymphatic drainage patterns before surgery. The procedure is applicable to almost all regions of the body, but the greatest impetus to the technique came with the application of the procedure to identify breast sentinel nodes.

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