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September 1990

Level I and II Axillary Dissection in the Treatment of Early-Stage Breast Cancer: An Analysis of 259 Consecutive Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Faulkner Breast Centre, Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Arch Surg. 1990;125(9):1144-1147. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1990.01410210070010

• Level I and II axillary dissection involves anatomic dissection of levels I and II of the axilla without clearance of the axillary vein or placement of drains. The results of level I and II axillary dissection with breast conservation in a consecutive series of 259 patients treated from 1981 through 1988, with a mean follow-up of 22.5 months (median, 27.1 months) were reviewed. The number of nodes removed ranged from two to 24, with a mean of nine. Axillary seroma was the most frequent complication (11 patients [4.2%]). Lymphedema was observed in seven patients (2.7%). Axillary recurrences occurred in two patients. These results indicate that a level I and II axillary dissection defined anatomically allows prognostic evaluation while limiting morbidity and recurrence. In addition, this procedure can be done safely without drains on an outpatient basis, with further psychological and economic benefits.

(Arch Surg. 1990;125:1144-1147)