Lymphoscintigraphy is performed before sentinel node (SN) biopsy for SN mapping. It is of clinical importance mainly if the tumor is located in body parts with ambiguous lymph node drainage. The purpose of this study was to assess the clinical benefit of fused SPECT/CT images to planar images for SN mapping.
Methods: Thirty-four consecutive patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma (n = 28) and squamous cell carcinoma (n = 6) and scheduled for SN biopsy were enrolled. Primary tumors were located in the trunk (n = 12), in the extremities (n = 12), in the head and neck (n = 9), and in the penis (n = 1). Scintigraphy was performed using a hybrid gamma-camera/low-dose CT system. Planar images and fused SPECT/CT images were interpreted separately.
Results: SPECT/CT identified multiple draining basins in 6 of 12 patients (50%) with trunk melanoma and in 3 of 9 patients (33%) with head and neck melanoma or mucosal tumor. In 9 of 21 patients (43%) with a primary tumor located in the head and neck or trunk region, SPECT/CT-fused images identified SNs that were missed on planar images, 2 of which were involved with tumor. Three of the 9 nodes were located close to the injection site and were hidden by its scattered radiation, and 2 were in-transit nodes. Another 4 nodes, identified on fused images only, were located in an additional basin to those identified on planar images. Fused images were of no added value either in patients with limb melanoma or in a patient with a penile melanoma.
Conclusion: SPECT/CT SN mapping provides additional data that are of clinical relevance to SN biopsy in patients with trunk or head and neck melanoma and in patients with mucosal head and neck tumor.