Surgical Management of Malignant Melanoma Using Dynamic Lymphoscintigraphy and Gamma Probe-Guided Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: The Emory Experience

Murray, Doughlas R.; Fry-Spray, Cynthia; Hestley, Andrea; Timbert, D. Scott; Carlson, Grant W.; Greenlee, Robert; Alazraki, Naomi; Poole, Rufus; Blais, Michel; Vansant, John
August 2000
American Surgeon;Aug2000, Vol. 66 Issue 8, p763
Academic Journal
Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is revolutionizing the surgical management of primary malignant melanoma. It allows accurate nodal staging which targets patients who may benefit from regional lymphadenectomy and systemic therapy. This is a retrospective review of patients treated at Emory University for stage I and II malignant melanoma with gamma probe-guided SLN biopsy from 1/1/94 to 6/30/98. Three hundred sixty patients (males 228, females 132) were identified. Primary melanoma sites included: head and neck 58, trunk 148, and extremities 154 (upper 71, lower 83). Primary tumor staging was T[sub 1] 9, T[sub 2] 134, T[sub 3] 153, and T[sub 4] 64. SLNs were successfully identified in 99.7 per cent of patients and 98.9 per cent of nodal basins mapped. In 275 (76.6%) cases a single draining nodal basin was identified. In 84 (23.3%) cases there were multiple draining nodal basins. Positive SLNs were identified in 63 patients (17.5%). SLN positivity by tumor staging was T[sub 1] 0 per cent, T[sub 2] 9.0 per cent, T[sub 3] 22.2 per cent, and Ta 26.6 per cent. The overall recurrence rate was 11.9 per cent. Recurrences by SLN status were SLN+, 27 per cent, and SLN--, 8.8 per cent. Regional recurrence occurred in 7 (2.4%) of the 297 with negative SLN biopsies and 7 (11.1%) of the 63 with positive SLN biopsies. Dynamic lymphoscintigraphy and gamma probe-guided SLN localization was successful in more than 98 per cent of cases. Patients with negative SLN biopsies have a low risk of recurrence.


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