Temporary shielding of hot spots in the drainage areas of cutaneous melanoma improves accuracy of lymphoscintigraphic sentinel lymph node diagnostics

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2002 Oct;29(10):1399-402. doi: 10.1007/s00259-002-0920-4. Epub 2002 Aug 2.


Detection of the "true" sentinel lymph nodes, permitting correct staging of regional lymph nodes, is essential for management and prognostic assessment in malignant melanoma. In this study, it was prospectively evaluated whether simple temporary shielding of hot spots in lymphatic drainage areas could improve the accuracy of sentinel lymph node diagnostics. In 100 consecutive malignant melanoma patients (45 women, 55 men; age 11-91 years), dynamic and static lymphoscintigraphy in various views was performed after strict intracutaneous application of technetium-99m nanocolloid (40-150 MBq; 0.05 ml/deposit) around the tumour (31 patients) or the biopsy scar (69 patients, safety distance 1 cm). The images were acquired with and without temporary lead shielding of the most prominent hot spots in the drainage area. In 33/100 patients, one or two additional sentinel lymph nodes that showed less tracer accumulation or were smaller (<1.5 cm) were detected after shielding. Four of these patients had metastases in the sentinel lymph nodes; the non-sentinel lymph nodes were tumour negative. In 3/100 patients, hot spots in the drainage area proved to be lymph vessels, lymph vessel intersections or lymph vessel ectasias after temporary shielding; hence, a node interpreted as a non-sentinel lymph node at first glance proved to be the real sentinel lymph node. In two of these patients, lymph node metastasis was histologically confirmed; the non-sentinel lymph nodes were tumour free. In 7/100 patients the exact course of lymph vessels could be mapped after shielding. In one of these patients, two additional sentinel lymph nodes (with metastasis) were detected. Overall, in 43/100 patients the temporary shielding yielded additional information, with sentinel lymph node metastases in 7%. In conclusion, when used in combination with dynamic acquisition in various views, temporary shielding of prominent hot spots in the drainage area of a malignant melanoma of the skin leads to an improvement in the accuracy of identification and localisation of sentinel lymph nodes by lymphoscintigraphy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Artifacts
  • Child
  • Drainage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / instrumentation
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Lead
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Melanoma / diagnostic imaging*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality Control
  • Radiation Protection / instrumentation
  • Radiation Protection / methods*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery


  • Lead