Aim: Creation of a classification of the lymphatic drainage status of a primary tumour. It shall enable comparison of different approaches, standardization and quality control.
Methods: Identification and topographic localization of the sentinel node(s) using lymphatic radionuclide gamma camera imaging and/or gamma probe detection and/or vital dye mapping.
Results: A classification comprising four classes (D-Class I-IV) and distinct subclasses (A-E) proved to be simply to be learned and applicable as well as reliably reproducible. It is based on the number of sentinel lymph nodes and their locations and can be combined with the pathological and molecular biological lymph node status. D-classes/subclasses obtained in 420 patients with malignant melanoma of the skin are presented.
Conclusions: The classification is applicable to different approaches. Its diagnostic, therapeutic and prognostic value should be studied prospectively in those primary tumours which preferably metastasis via their draining lymphatic vessels.