Saturday, May 13, 2006

Imaging of lymphatic vessels in breast cancer-related lymphedema: intradermal versus subcutaneous injection of 99mTc-immunoglobulin.

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2006 May;186(5):1349-55.
O'Mahony S, Solanki CK, Barber RW, Mortimer PS, Purushotham AD, Peters AM.

Cambridge Breast Unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


The disordered physiology that results from axillary lymph node clearance surgery for breast cancer and that leads to breast cancer-related lymphedema is poorly understood. Rerouting of lymph around the axilla or through new pathways in the axilla may protect women from breast cancer-related lymphedema. The aim of the study was to compare intradermal with subcutaneous injection of technetium-99m ((99m)Tc)-labeled human polyclonal IgG (HIG) with respect to lymphatic vessel imaging.


Six women with breast cancer-related lymphedema underwent unilateral upper limb lymphoscintigraphy, using a web space injection of (99m)Tc-labeled HIG, after intradermal and subcutaneous injections on separate occasions. Multiple sequential images were obtained of the affected upper limb and torso over 3 hr on each occasion. Accumulation of activity in blood was quantified from venous blood samples taken from the opposite arm.


Imaging after intradermal injection clearly showed discrete lymphatic vessels in five of six patients, in contrast to imaging after subcutaneous injection, which did not show any discrete vessels in any patient. Intradermal injection resulted in more rapid visualization of cutaneous lymph rerouting than subcutaneous injection in six of six patients. Recovery of injected (99m)Tc-labeled HIG in venous blood was greater after intradermal injection in six of six patients.


In patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema, lymphatic vessels are more clearly depicted after intradermal than subcutaneous injection as a result of direct access of radiotracer to dermal lymphatics. This finding has implications for imaging lymphatic vessel regeneration and lymph rerouting.

PMID: 16632730 [PubMed - in process]

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