Robotic-Assisted Transperitoneal Pelvic Lymphadenectomy for Metastatic Melanoma: Early Outcomes Compared with Open Pelvic Lymphadenectomy

J Am Coll Surg. 2016 Apr;222(4):702-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2015.12.033. Epub 2016 Jan 14.


Background: In the absence of iliac or obturator nodal involvement, the role of pelvic lymphadenectomy (PLND) for melanoma is controversial, but for select patients, long-term survival can be achieved with the combination of superficial inguinal (inguinofemoral) and PLND. Open PLND (oPLND) is often limited in visual exposure and can be associated with considerable postoperative pain. Robotic PLND (rPLND) is a minimally invasive technique that provides excellent visualization of the iliac and obturator nodes. Outcomes comparing the open and robotic techniques have not been reported previously for patients with melanoma.

Study design: We reviewed our experience with rPLND for melanoma and compared clinical and pathologic results with oPLND. We evaluated operative times, nodal yield, and short-term oncologic outcomes.

Results: Thirteen rPLND (2013 to 2015) (15 attempted, 87% success rate) and 25 oPLND (2010 to 2015) consecutive cases were completed. Pelvic lymphadenectomy was combined with an open inguinofemoral dissection in 8 of 13 (62%) robotic and 17 of 25 (68%) open cases. Median length of stay was shorter in the rPLND group, with 1.0 vs 3.5 days for pelvic-only cases (p < 0.001) and 2.5 vs 4.0 days (p < 0.001) for combined ilioinguinal cases. Median operative time (227 vs 230 minutes; p = 0.96) and nodal yield (11 vs 10 nodes; p = 0.53) were not different between rPLND and oPLND.

Conclusions: Robotic PLND offers a safe, effective, minimally invasive approach to resect the pelvic lymph nodes in patients with melanoma, with no significant difference in nodal yield or operative times, but a shorter length of stay compared with oPLND.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Length of Stay
  • Lymph Node Excision*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / secondary*
  • Melanoma / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Operative Time
  • Pelvis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome