Role of Concurrent Ultrasound Surveillance of Sentinel Node-Positive Node Fields in Melanoma Patients Having Routine Cross-Sectional Imaging

Ann Surg Oncol. 2024 Mar;31(3):1857-1864. doi: 10.1245/s10434-023-14526-9. Epub 2023 Nov 15.


Purpose: In sentinel node-positive (SN+ve) melanoma patients, active surveillance with regular ultrasound examination of the node field has become standard, rather than completion lymph node dissection (CLND). A proportion of these patients now receive adjuvant systemic therapy and have routine cross-sectional imaging (computed tomography [CT] or positron emission tomography [PET]/CT). The role of concurrent ultrasound (US) surveillance in these patients is unclear. The purpose of our study was to describe the modality of detection of nodal recurrence in SN+ve node fields.

Methods: SN+ve melanoma patients who did not undergo CLND treated at a single institution from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020 were included.

Results: A total of 225 SN+ve patients with a median follow-up of 23 months were included. Of these, 119 (53%) received adjuvant systemic therapy. Eighty (36%) developed a recurrence at any site; 24 (11%) recurred first in the SN+ve field, of which 12 (5%) were confirmed node field recurrence only at 2 months follow-up. The nodal recurrences were first detected by ultrasound in seven (3%), CT in seven (3%), and PET/CT in seven (3%) patients. All nodal recurrences evident on US were also evident on PET/CT and vice versa.

Conclusions: The high rate of recurrences outside the node field and the identification of all US-detected nodal recurrences on concurrent cross-sectional imaging modalities suggest that routine concurrent ultrasound surveillance of the node-positive field may be unnecessary for SN+ve melanoma patients having routine cross-sectional imaging.

Keywords: Adjuvant therapy; CT; Diagnosis; Imaging; Melanoma; Nodal; PET/CT; Recurrence; Sentinel lymph node (SLN); Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB); Sentinel node (SN); Stage III; Surveillance; Ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods
  • Sentinel Lymph Node* / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic