Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Nonvisualized sentinel lymph nodes on lymphoscintigraphy in melanoma

predictive factors and surgical outcomes

Schuitevoerder, Darryl; Grinlington, Lisa; Stevens, Jeffrey; Nance, Robert; Fortino, Jeanine; Vetto, John T.

Nuclear Medicine Communications: May 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 5 - p 383–387
doi: 10.1097/MNM.0000000000000658

Purpose Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy is the standard for the identification of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) in melanoma. The impact of negative scintigraphy [nonvisualization (NV) of the SLN] on surgical outcomes is inadequately reported in the literature. The objectives of this study were to determine the incidence, predictive factors, and surgical outcomes of NV in clinically node-negative melanoma patients.

Patients and methods A retrospective review of a prospective, Institutional Review Board approved, melanoma sentinel node database from January 2005 to August 2015 was performed.

Results Twenty-seven of the 897 (3%) patients had negative scintigraphy. Single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography was performed in addition to planar imaging in four patients and failed to locate the SLN in all cases. NV was associated with older age (71 vs. 59 years, P<0.001), head and neck primaries (41%), and previous operations adjacent to the primary tumor or nodal beds (37%). NV was not associated with sex, BMI, or T stage. Despite a negative scintigram, the SLN was still found at operation in 10 of the 27 (37%) patients using the hand-held gamma probe, with one (10%) patient having nodal metastasis. Two patients with NV had nodal recurrence, with a mean follow-up of 3 years.

Discussion Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy in clinically node-negative melanoma patients is associated with a low NV rate. Predictors for NV include age, head and neck location, and previous operations at adjacent sites. NV should not preclude surgical exploration as the SLN can still be found at operation in over one-third of patients.

Departments of aSurgery

bDivision of Surgical Oncology

cDiagnostic Radiology, Division of Nuclear Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA

dDeakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence to Darryl Schuitevoerder, MBBS, Department of Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Mail code L223, Portland, OR 97239, USA Tel: +1 503 913 3734; fax: +1 503 494 7573; e-mail:

Received December 26, 2016

Received in revised form February 13, 2017

Accepted February 28, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.