Background: Combining radioactive colloids and a near-infrared (NIR) fluorophore permits preoperative planning and intraoperative localization of deeply located sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) with direct optical guidance by a single lymphatic tracer. The aim of this clinical trial was to evaluate and optimize a hybrid NIR fluorescence and radioactive tracer for SLN detection in patients with breast cancer.
Methods: Patients with breast cancer undergoing SLN biopsy were enrolled. The day before surgery, a periareolar injection of indocyanine green (ICG)-99mTc-radiolabelled nanocolloid was administered and a lymphoscintigram acquired. Blue dye was injected immediately before surgery. Intraoperative SLN localization was performed using a γ probe and the Mini-FLARE™ NIR fluorescence imaging system. Patients were divided into two dose groups, with one group receiving twice the particle density of ICG and nanocolloid, but the same dose of radioactive 99mTc.
Results: Thirty-two patients were enrolled in the trial. At least one SLN was identified before and during operation. All 48 axillary SLNs could be detected by γ tracing and NIR fluorescence imaging, but only 42 of them stained blue. NIR fluorescence imaging permitted detection of lymphatic vessels draining to the SLN up to 29 h after injection. Doubling the particle density did not yield a difference in fluorescence intensity (median 255 (range 98-542) versus 284 (90-921) arbitrary units; P = 0.590) or signal-to-background ratio (median 5·4 (range 3·0-15·4) versus 4·9 (3·5-16·3); P = 1·000) of the SLN.
Conclusion: The hybrid NIR fluorescence and radioactive tracer permitted accurate preoperative and intraoperative detection of the SLNs in patients with breast cancer.
Registration number: NTR3685 (Netherlands Trial Register; http://www.trialregister.nl).
© 2013 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.