Intraoperative frozen section of sentinel nodes: A formal decision analysis

Celia Chao, Troy Abell, Robert C.G. Martin, Kelly M. McMasters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In the absence of data from randomized trials, a formal decision analysis was undertaken to quantify the relative value of the patients' quality of life with regard to performing intraoperative frozen section (FS) versus permanent section (PS) analysis of the sentinel lymph node (SLN) for breast cancer. Assumptions for this analysis were based on data from 203 nodal basins where the prevalence of nodal metastasis was 26.1 per cent; the FS sensitivity was 68 per cent and FS false-positive rate was 0.7 per cent. DATA 4.0 was used to model the decision analysis. The two branches of the tree represent the two surgical options of either FS analysis intraoperatively, accompanied by immediate axillary dissection for positive nodes versus PS analysis followed by reoperative axillary dissection. The expected utility (EU) with the FS strategy is 0.9736; the EU for PS is 0.9732, suggesting no definite preference for either procedure. Overall, the toss-up is very robust. The decision to choose FS versus PS should be based on individual patient risk and preference because the decision analysis indicated that these two options are equivalent with respect to patient quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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