Lymph Node-Sparing Surgery

Dennis R. Holmes, M.D., F.A.C.S. -  - Breast Cancer Surgeon

Dennis R. Holmes, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Breast Cancer Surgeon located in Santa Monica, CA

Lymph Node-Sparing Surgery Specialist
Dennis R. Holmes, M.D., F.A.C.S., is an internationally renowned breast cancer expert with locations in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Glendale, and Los Angeles, California, and is one of very few surgeons in the U.S. performing lymph node-sparing surgery, a specialized technique to minimize the side effects of lymph node surgery.

Lymph Node-Sparing Surgery

by Dennis R. Holmes, M.D., F.A.C.S.

What is lymph node-sparing surgery?

Removal or injury to arm  lymph nodes and lymph vessels that originate from the arm may cause lymphedema or chronic arm swelling.  Under normal circumstances, a surgeon is unable to distinguish arm lymph nodes/vessel from breast lymph nodes/vessels, because they look the same and are located in the same area of the armpit.  Lymph node-sparing surgery using the axillary reverse mapping technique utilized a blue dye injected into the arm which turns the arm lymph nodes blue. This makes them visible to capable of being distinguished for arm lymph nodes/vessels.

 

View Lymphedema

 

View Axillary Reverse Mapping

 

When is lymph node-sparing surgery performed?

Lymph node-sparing surgery can be performed whenever lymph node surgery is needed for management of breast cancer.   In it simplest form, lymph node sparing surgery can be performed using axillary reverse mapping at the time of sentinel node biopsy or axillary node dissection to identify arm lymph nodes and lymph vessels which may be avoided or spared.  Another strategy of sparing lymph node is to offer women with positive lymph nodes chemotherapy with the goal of clearing away cancer within the nodes.  If positive nodes can be converted to normal or negative lymph nodes, then Dr. Holmes can reduce the number of lymph nodes that must be removed at the time of lymph node surgery.

How common is lymphedema?

Lymphedema or chronic arm swelling occurs in approximately 5% women undergoing sentinel node biopsy and 15-30% of women undergoing axillary node dissection, depending on whether or not radiation is also needed.  Lymphedema is treatable, but not usually curable.  The best solution is prevention by limiting the number of lymph node removed and avoiding removal or disruption of lymph node and vessels that drain the arm. 

Are you a candidate for lymph node sparing surgery?

Anyone undergoing lymph node surgery is a candidate for lymph node-sparing surgery.

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