We report here a review of the literature intended to clarify the nomenclature and boundaries of the nodes in the "central compartment" of the neck, the frequency with which tumors from the different laryngeal sites metastasize to these nodes, and the indications for central compartment node dissection in the treatment of cancers of the larynx. From this review, we conclude that, until consensus is reached about grouping of the lymph nodes in this area, it is best to refer to these nodes by their anatomic location, ie, prelaryngeal, pretracheal, or paratracheal lymph nodes. It is also advisable to describe dissection of these nodes as selective neck dissection (SND) with an annotation about the specific lymph node groups removed. Metastases in prelaryngeal and paratracheal lymph nodes in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx are associated with increased tumor recurrence, more frequent metastases in lymph nodes of the lateral compartment of the neck, and decreased survival. If untreated, they may lead to the development of peristomal recurrence. Therefore, elective treatment of level VI nodes is recommended in patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the subglottic region, advanced glottis carcinomas with subglottic extension, and in certain advanced carcinomas of the supraglottic region.
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