Sentinel Node Injection

A sentinel lymph node injection is often performed on patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer. This information is given to provide an understanding of the procedure. Removal of your sentinel lymph node or, the first lymph node in the chain of lymph nodes under your arm. The sentinel lymph node, is believed to most likely contain disease if the cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph node biopsy has been developed to decrease the potential complications of removing multiple lymph nodes from your armpit and to study those lymph nodes more thoroughly. Based on scientific evaluation of removing and testing fewer lymph nodes during breast cancer surgery, sentinel lymph node dissection is now an accepted and safe part of care.

What should I expect?

The procedure involves injecting a radioactive isotope into the breast, generally around the central aspect of the breast. The material moves through the lymphatic channels and accumulates in one or several lymph nodes. During surgery, a handheld gamma ray counter scans the area of the underarm to locate the sentinel node.