The radiologists' role in axillary imaging in the setting of a suspicious breast mass is evolving in light of the Z0011 trial leading to expected practice variation. The purpose of our project was to generate a standardized algorithm guiding the utilization of axillary ultrasound in the setting of a highly suggestive or highly suspicious breast mass (BI-RADS 4C or 5) without a known cancer diagnosis. The algorithm was created with Z0011 practices in mind while reflecting the clinical preferences of our radiology and surgical teams. The four breast surgeons at our academic institution were individually queried regarding their preferred axillary imaging and biopsy approach. The best practices for axillary imaging were then developed in a breast imaging intradepartmental meeting. There was agreement among the surgical group that the presence of suspicious axillary lymph node (s) on ultrasound could be used for treatment planning and patient discussion but would not be used for surgical planning in most cases. They also agreed that an ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy of a suspicious axillary lymph node should be deferred until after surgical consultation. Discussion among our breast radiologists resulted in the consensus that axillary ultrasound in the setting of a BIRADS 4 or 5 mass should be deferred at its initial presentation unless there is palpable lymphadenopathy, suspicious lymph node on mammography, or a tumor is at least stage T3, presumably excluding them from Z0011 criteria. The decision was also made to defer biopsies of suspicious axillary lymph nodes without prior surgical consultation/discussion.
- Axillary US
- BI-RADS 4C/5 mass
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging