Objective: To survey the surgical practice of gynecologic oncologists regarding the extent of groin dissection for early vulvar cancer.
Methods: A 14-item questionnaire was developed and presented to the Annual Meeting of the Felix Rutledge Society. Gynecologic oncologists were asked to describe in descriptive, categorical, and visual terms the groin procedure that they perform as part of management of early vulvar cancers. Three ink-line drawings were created by a medical illustrator for the purpose. Fifty returned surveys were evaluable.
Results: The most commonly performed procedures were removal of the lymph nodes above the cribriform fascia and those medial to the femoral vein (40%), removal of lymph nodes above the cribriform fascia (34%), and removal of all nodes above and below the cribriform fascia (22%). Respondents performing the first procedure termed it "superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy" (40%), "inguinal femoral lymphadenectomy" (25%) and a variety of other names (35%). Respondents performing the second two procedures were much more consistent in the figure and name that they matched with their description of the nodes removed. When respondents were asked to match the figures with categorical definitions based on their understanding of the literature, the figure depicting Scarpa's triangle following removal of the superficial inguinal and medial femoral nodes was named superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy by 24% despite the fact that the femoral vein was clearly visible and labeled.
Conclusions: We conclude that (1) among this group of gynecologic oncologists superficial inguinal and medial femoral lymphadenectomy is the most commonly performed procedure for women with early vulvar cancer and that the procedure is frequently called superficial inguinal lymphadenectomy; (2) publications and protocols on this topic must provide complete descriptions of procedures performed, and investigators must assure that individual surgeons are performing the same procedure; and (3) treatment results with superficial inguinal and medial femoral lymphadenectomy are poorly described and a fertile area for further study.