Purpose: To assess the diagnostic performance of postoperative ultrasound (US) surveillance for the detection of malignant lesions and to evaluate the clinical role of US in the postoperative surveillance of patients with breast cancer history. Methods: We studied a total of 390 patients who underwent surgery for breast cancer between January 2000 and December 2002, 286 mastectomy patients, 103 breast conservation surgery (BCS) patients, and one with both mastectomy and BCS. A total of 4,081 US examinations by December 2010 were reviewed. The final diagnosis for final-positive lesions was based on cytopathology results, clinical follow-up, and imaging studies. Diagnostic performances for detecting final-positive lesions were assessed. We also compared the frequency of distant metastases in patients with final-positive findings and those without. The overall survival was estimated. Results: Among 2,925 examinations in 287 patients with mastectomy, there were 85 US-positive and 23 final-positive lesions (27 %) in 20 patients at final diagnosis. Among 1,171 examinations in 104 BCS patients, there were 32 US-positive and five final-positive (15.6 %) findings in four patients. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and accuracy of US for final-positive lesions after breast cancer surgery were 95.8,97.8, 27.1, and 97.9 % in mastectomy patients and 42.9, 97.5, 9.4, and 97.2 % in BCS patients. Among mastectomy patients, patients with final-positive findings had a higher incidence of distant metastasis than patients without final-positive findings (31.6 vs. 9.3 %, p = 0.01). Among BCS patients, there was no distant metastasis. Among mastectomy patients, the overall survival was not significantly different between patients with only final-positive findings and in patients with final-positive findings and distant metastasis (p > 0.05). Conclusions: Postoperative US had a high sensitivity for the detection of malignant lesions in the breast and the regional area, which can be a predictor of distant metastasis in mastectomy patients; however, the role of postoperative US in the detection of malignant lesions in BCS patients is unclear.
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