Sentinel lymph node biopsy in high-grade endometrial cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of performance characteristics

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Oct;225(4):367.e1-367.e39. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2021.05.034. Epub 2021 May 29.


Objective: A sentinel lymph node biopsy is widely accepted as the standard of care for surgical staging in low-grade endometrial cancer, but its value in high-grade endometrial cancer remains controversial. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the performance characteristics of sentinel lymph node biopsy in patients with endometrial cancer with high-grade histology (registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews with identifying number CRD42020160280).

Data sources: We systematically searched the MEDLINE, Epub Ahead of Print, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Embase databases all through the OvidSP platform. The search was performed between January 1, 2000, and January 26, 2021. was searched to identify ongoing registered clinical trials.

Study eligibility criteria: We included prospective cohort studies in which sentinel lymph node biopsy were evaluated in clinical stage I patients with high-grade endometrial cancer (grade 3 endometrioid, serous, clear cell, carcinosarcoma, mixed, undifferentiated or dedifferentiated, and high-grade not otherwise specified) with a cervical injection of indocyanine green for sentinel lymph node detection and at least a bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy as a reference standard. If the data were not reported specifically for patients with high-grade histology, the authors were contacted for aggregate data.

Methods: We pooled the detection rates and measures of diagnostic accuracy using a generalized linear mixed-effects model with a logit and assessed the risk of bias using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2 tool.

Results: We identified 16 eligible studies of which the authors for 9 of the studies provided data on 429 patients with high-grade endometrial cancer specifically. The study-level median age was 66 years (range, 44-82.5 years) and the study-level median body mass index was 28.6 kg/m2 (range, 19.4-43.7 kg/m2). The pooled detection rates were 91% per patient (95% confidence interval, 85%-95%; I2=59%) and 64% bilaterally (95% confidence interval, 53%-73%; I2=69%). The overall node positivity rate was 26% (95% confidence interval, 19%-34%; I2=44%). Of the 87 patients with positive node results, a sentinel lymph node biopsy correctly identified 80, yielding a pooled sensitivity of 92% per patient (95% confidence interval, 84%-96%; I2=0%), a false negative rate of 8% (95% confidence interval, 4%-16%; I2=0%), and a negative predictive value of 97% (95% confidence interval, 95%-99%; I2=0%).

Conclusion: Sentinel lymph node biopsy accurately detect lymph node metastases in patients with high-grade endometrial cancer with a false negative rate comparable with that observed in low-grade endometrial cancer, melanoma, vulvar cancer, and breast cancer. These findings suggest that sentinel lymph node biopsy can replace complete lymphadenectomies as the standard of care for surgical staging in patients with high-grade endometrial cancer.

Keywords: endometrial cancer; high-grade; indocyanine green; sentinel lymph node.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / pathology*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Endometrioid / surgery
  • Carcinosarcoma / pathology*
  • Carcinosarcoma / surgery
  • Coloring Agents
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasms, Cystic, Mucinous, and Serous / pathology*
  • Neoplasms, Cystic, Mucinous, and Serous / surgery
  • Sentinel Lymph Node / pathology*
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy*


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green