Sentinel node biopsy for melanoma in the head and neck region

Head Neck. 2000 Jan;22(1):27-33. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0347(200001)22:1<27::aid-hed5>;2-z.


Background: Lymphatic drainage in the head and neck region is known to be particularly complex. This study explores the value of sentinel node biopsy for melanoma in the head and neck region.

Methods: Thirty consecutive patients with clinically localized cutaneous melanoma in the head and neck region were included. Sentinel node biopsy was performed with blue dye and a gamma probe after preoperative lymphoscintigraphy. Average follow-up was 23 months (range, 1-48).

Results: In 27 of 30 patients, a sentinel node was identified (90%). Only 53% of sentinel nodes were both blue and radioactive. A sentinel node was tumor-positive in 8 patients. The sentinel node was false-negative in two cases. Sensitivity of the procedure was 80% (8 of 10).

Conclusions: Sentinel node biopsy in the head and neck region is a technically demanding procedure. Although it may help determine whether a neck dissection is necessary in certain patients, further investigation is required before this technique can be recommended for the standard management of cutaneous head and neck melanoma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery
  • Survival Rate