Utility of intraoperative frozen section analysis of sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer

Celia Chao, Sandra L. Wong, Douglas Ackermann, Diana Simpson, Mary B. Carter, C. Matthew Brown, Michael J. Edwards, Kelly M. McMasters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Background: Intraoperative frozen section pathologic analysis of sentinel lymph node (SLN) may guide immediate (single-stage) completion axillary dissection for patients with nodal metastases. Methods: The results of 203 consecutive patients undergoing SLN biopsy who had intraoperative pathology consultation between January 1998 and September 2000 were reviewed. SLN were analyzed by standard frozen section procedures. Final pathologic analysis included hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining of serial sections at 2-mm intervals. Results: Frozen section analysis correctly identified a positive or negative result in 185 of 203 cases (overall accuracy 91%). In 17 of 53 cases, the SLNs were negative for tumor by frozen section, but positive on permanent section analysis (sensitivity 68%). The mean size of the nodal metastases was 6.2 mm and 1.5 mm in patients found to have true positive and false negative results, respectively (P <0.003). A single false positive SLN is reported. Conclusions: Two thirds of the patients were spared the need for reoperative axillary lymphadenectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-615
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Frozen section
  • Sentinel lymph node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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