Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The existing standard for axillary lymph node staging in breast cancer patients with a clinically and radiologically normal axilla is sentinel lymph node biopsy with a radioisotope and blue dye (dual technique). The dependence on radioisotopes means that uptake of the procedure is limited to only about 60% of eligible patients in developed countries and is negligible elsewhere. We did a systematic review to assess three techniques for sentinel lymph node biopsy that are not radioisotope dependent or that refine the existing method: indocyanine green fluorescence, contrast-enhanced ultrasound using microbubbles, and superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Our systematic review suggested that these new methods for sentinel lymph node biopsy have clinical potential but give high levels of false-negative results. We could not identify any technique that challenged the existing standard procedure. Further assessment of these techniques against the standard dual technique in randomised trials is needed.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Oncol

Publication Date





e351 - e362


Axilla, Breast Neoplasms, Coloring Agents, Contrast Media, Female, Fluorescence, Humans, Indocyanine Green, Lymph Nodes, Magnetite Nanoparticles, Microbubbles, Neoplasm Staging, Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, Ultrasonography