New tracers for sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), as indocyanine green (ICG), superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) and micro bubbles, have been recently introduced in clinical practice showing promising but variable results. We reviewed the available evidence comparing these new techniques with the standard tracers to evaluate their safety. To identify all available studies, a systematic search was performed in all electronic databases. Data regarding sample size, mean number of SLN harvested for patient, number of metastatic SLN and SLN identification rate of all studies were extracted. No significant differences were found in terms of SLNs identification rates between SPIO, RI and BD but with a higher identification rate with the use of ICG. No significant differences were also found for the number of metastatic lymph nodes identified between SPIO, RI and BD and the mean number of SLNs identified between SPIO and ICG versus conventional tracers. A statistically significant differences in favor of ICG was reported for the comparison between ICG and conventional tracers for the number of metastatic lymph nodes identified. Our meta-analysis demonstrates that the use of both ICG and SPIO for the pre-operative mapping of sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer treatment is adequately effective.

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