To present our initial experience with complete endoscopic axillary lymph node dissection (EALND) in 4 breast cancer patients with respect to feasibility, safety, and clinical outcome.Patients and Methods
Between January 2003 and March 2004, 4 women consented to be treated with lumpectomy followed by complete (level I, II, and III) EALND without liposuction, at the Laparoendoscopic Unit of Athens Medical School. All 4 patients presented with a solitary breast cancer lesion smaller than 2 cm in diameter and a negative clinical and sonographic lymph node status (<1 cm).Results
All the operations were completed endoscopically in less than 70 minutes (44 to 69 min). The axillary lymph node harvest ranged between 12 and 21 nodes. No lymphedema, motor nerve damage, seroma formation, or wound complications were observed. Prolonged hospitalization, owing to persistent lymphorrhoea was required for 1 patient. During a mean follow-up of 21.3 months, 2 patients reported mild hypoesthesia-paresthesia along the upper medial part of the respective arm, whereas no tumor recurrences were documented.Conclusions
Although partial EALND has not been established as the treatment of choice for axillary management, complete EALND seems to be a feasible and effective minimally invasive treatment modality, which could be safely applied in patients with positive sentinel node biopsy, treated in specialized centers.