Use of sentinel node lymphoscintigraphy in malignant melanoma

Radiographics. 1999 Mar-Apr;19(2):343-53; discussion 354-6. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.2.g99mr12343.


Lymphoscintigraphy is a sensitive, inexpensive, relatively noninvasive method of identifying lymphatic drainage patterns and sentinel lymph nodes in patients with malignant melanoma. Lymphoscintigraphy with filtered technetium-99m sulfur colloid allows prompt visualization of the lymphatic system, produces high-quality images, and delivers a low radiation dose to the patient. In addition, good regional lymph node retention is seen with filtered Tc-99m sulfur colloid, improving the success rate of intraoperative gamma probe localization. In combination with surgical localization, lymphoscintigraphy allows preoperative and intraoperative identification of the sentinel node in patients with intermediate thickness melanomatous lesions, obviating radical lymph node dissection in most patients and possibly prolonging their survival. Variables such as tumor location, type and preparation of radiopharmaceutical, injection technique, imaging technique, and prior surgical intervention influence the efficacy of lymphoscintigraphy. Nevertheless, lymphoscintigraphy is recommended as a cost-effective preoperative procedure in all patients planning to undergo elective lymph node dissection. Because of the unpredictability of lymphatic drainage, preoperative scintigraphic findings may lead to changes in surgical management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Preoperative Care
  • Radionuclide Imaging / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sulfur Colloid


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium Tc 99m Sulfur Colloid