Axillary surgery and complication rates after mastectomy and reconstruction for breast cancer: an analysis of the NSQIP database Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Purpose

    Some series have shown increased complications with extended nodal surgery and immediate breast reconstruction (IBR) with implants. We aim to explore complications associated with axillary dissection compared to sentinel lymph node biopsy at a population level.


    American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program participant user files from 2008-2018 were searched to create a cohort of female patients undergoing unilateral mastectomy with IBR and axillary surgery for non-metastatic breast cancer. Patients were classified as having sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), axillary dissection (ALND), or sentinel lymph node biopsy and axillary dissection (SLNB + ALND). Baseline demographics were compared, and multivariable logistic regression was to assess for independent predictors of the primary outcome of 30-day morbidity.


    Between 2008 and 2018, 18,232 patients had mastectomy and IBR with axillary surgery; 12,632 patients underwent SLNB, 3727 had ALND and 1,873 underwent SLNB + ALND. Mean age of patients in the cohort was 52.5 (SD 11). There was no difference in 30-day morbidity between groups (SLNB: 4.3%, ALND: 4.9%, SLNB + ALND: 4.2%, p = 0.207). Multivariable regression showed that type of axillary surgery was not an independent predictor of 30-day complications (OR 0.78 (95% CI 0.52-1.15) for ALND, and OR 0.87 (95% CI 0.52-1.45) for ALND + SLNB vs SLNB alone). Significant independent predictors for complications were increased BMI (OR 1.06 (95%CI 1.04-1.08)) and increased operative time (OR 1.003 (95% CI 1.001-1.005)).


    ALND does not increase 30-day morbidity in patients undergoing IBR when compared to SLNB. This supports concurrent axillary dissection for IBR patients when indicated.

publication date

  • April 2022