Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

A sentinel lymph node biopsy is performed to determine if invasive breast cancer has moved beyond the original tumor location via a targeted lymph node under the armpit.

If the cancer is contained within a few lymph nodes, only the need to be removed...sparing a more invasive surgical procedure.

  • The patient first undergoes a lymphoscintigraphy exam in the nuclear medicine department.
  • A lymphoscintigraphy is performed by injecting radioactive material around the breast cancer or around the breast cancer biopsy site.
  • The patient lies down on a table while images similar to X-ray pictures are taken of the breast cancer site.
  • The patient is then taken to the operating room where a surgeon injects about a teaspoon of blue dye around the breast cancer or biopsy site to assist in localizing the sentinel node.
  • A gamma probe will also be used to locate the targeted sentinel lymph node.