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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Pretreatment Tattoo Marking of Suspicious Axillary Lymph Nodes: Reliability and Correlation with Sentinel Lymph Node

Rupa Patel MD, Wendy MacKerricher MD, Jacqueline Tsai MD, Nicole Choy MD, Jafi Lipson MD, Debra Ikeda MD, Sunita Pal MD, Wendy De Martini MD, Kimberly H. Allison MD, Irene L. Wapnir MD
Breast Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 8 / August , 2019

Abstract

Background

Tattooing is an alternative method for marking biopsied axillary lymph nodes (ALNs) before initiation of treatments for newly diagnosed breast cancer. Detection of black ink-stained nodes is performed under direct visualization at surgery and is combined with sentinel node (SLN) mapping procedures.

Methods

Women with newly diagnosed breast cancer who underwent fine or core-needle biopsy of suspicious ALNs were recruited. The nodal cortex and perinodal soft tissue was injected with 0.1–1.0 ml of Spot™ (GI Supply) black ink under ultrasound guidance. Intraoperatively, black stained nodes were removed along with SLNs, noting concordance between the two.

Results

Sixty-six evaluable patients were enrolled (2013–2017). Nineteen received surgery first (Group 1) and 47 neoadjuvant therapy (NAT, Group 2). The average number of nodes tattooed was 1.16 for Group 1 and 1.04 for Group 2. The average interval from tattoo to surgery was 21 days (range 1–62) for Group 1 and 148 days (range 71–257) for Group 2. The tattooed node(s) were visually identified at surgery and corresponded to the sentinel lymph node(s) in 98.5% of cases (18/19 in Group 1 and 47/47 in Group 2). Of the 14 patients in Group 2 whose nodes remained positive following NAT, the tattooed node was the SLN associated with carcinoma.

Conclusions

Tattooing is an alternative method for marking biopsied ALNs. Tattooed nodes coincided with SLNs in 98.5% of cases. This technique is advantageous, because it allows for fewer procedures and lower costs compared with other methods.

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