Anaphylactic reactions to isosulfan blue dye during sentinel lymph node biopsy for breast cancer

Daniel Albo, Jeffrey D. Wayne, Kelly K. Hunt, Tom F. Rahlfs, S. Eva Singletary, Frederick C. Ames, Barry W. Feig, Merrick I. Ross, Henry M. Kuerer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


Background: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is an alternative to axillary dissection for many breast cancer patients. Cases of anaphylactic reaction to the isosulfan blue dye used during SLNB have recently been reported. No study on the incidence of serious anaphylactic reactions during SLNB for breast cancer has been reported. Methods: We reviewed 639 consecutive SLNBs for breast cancer performed at our institution. Sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed using both isosulfan blue dye and technetium-99m sulfur colloid. Cases of anaphylaxis were reviewed in detail. Results: Overall, 1.1% of patients had severe anaphylactic reactions to isosulfan blue requiring vigorous resuscitation. No deaths or permanent disability occurred. In patients with anaphylaxis, hospital stay was prolonged by a mean of 1.6 days. In 1 patient, the anaphylactic reaction required termination of the operation. Conclusions: Prompt recognition and aggressive treatment of anaphylactic reactions to isosulfan blue are critical to prevent an adverse outcome. Lymphatic mapping with blue dye should be performed in a setting where personnel are trained to recognize and treat anaphylaxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaphylaxis
  • Breast cancer
  • Isosulfan blue
  • Sentinel lymph node
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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