Interpectoral lymph node

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 16 Aug 2021

Interpectoral lymph nodes, also known as Rotter lymph nodes, are located in the interpectoral fascia in Rotter space, between the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor muscles. Their number varies from one to four. They are usually considered to be a separate nodal group from the level I and II axillary nodes.

Interpectoral nodes can be seen on CT, even when not enlarged, as first described in 1987 6.

The Rotter space and nodes are named after the German surgeon Josef Rotter (1857-1924) who described the nodes in an 1899 article describing findings in post radical mastectomy specimens 4,5. Although like many other eponyms they were first described in the literature by someone else (Stigler's law of eponymy) 7, in this case, three years earlier by F Grossman 2.

Breast cancer can metastasize to these nodes and they may be positive even in the absence of disease in level I or II axillary nodes. Although uncommon, breast cancer can also initially recur to these nodes.

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