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  • Supported by a grant from the Hologic Inc., Indianapolis, IN.

  • Presented at the American College of Veterinary Radiology Annual Scientific Meeting, October 2009, Memphis, TN.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Lynetta J. Freeman, at the above address. E-mail:


Our goal was to develop and validate a technique to identify the sentinel lymph nodes of the mammary glands of healthy dogs with contrast-enhanced ultrasound, and evaluate the feasibility of obtaining representative samples of a sentinel lymph node under ultrasound guidance using a new biopsy device. Three healthy intact female adult hounds were anesthetized and each received an injection of octafluoropropane-filled lipid microspheres and a separate subcutaneous injection of methylene blue dye around a mammary gland. Ultrasound was then used to follow the contrast agent through the lymphatic channel to the sentinel lymph node. Lymph node biopsy was performed under ultrasound guidance, followed by an excisional biopsy of the lymph nodes and a regional mastectomy procedure. Excised tissues were submitted for histopathologic examination and evaluated as to whether they were representative of the node. The ultrasound contrast agent was easily visualized with ultrasound leading up to the sentinel lymph nodes. Eight normal lymph nodes (two inguinal, one axillary in two dogs; two inguinal in one dog) were identified and biopsied. Lymphoid tissue was obtained from all biopsy specimens. Samples from four of eight lymph nodes contained both cortical and medullary lymphoid tissue. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound can be successfully used to image and guide minimally invasive biopsy of the normal sentinel lymph nodes draining the mammary glands in healthy dogs. Further work is needed to evaluate whether this technique may be applicable in patients with breast cancer or other conditions warranting evaluation of sentinel lymph nodes in animals.