Background: Some patients undergoing surgical resection of primary squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx also undergo supraomohyoid neck dissection for staging of the negative (N(o)) neck. Dissection of the supraspinal accessory lymph node pad requires significant traction of the spinal accessory nerve. There are currently no data to indicate the incidence of metastases to this site and thus the necessity of performing dissection of these nodes.
Methods: A prospective analysis of a consecutive series of 44 patients with newly diagnosed squamous carcinoma of the oral cavity or oropharynx undergoing surgical management of the primary lesion with staging neck dissection was performed. Patients underwent unilateral (41) or bilateral (3) supraomohyoid neck dissection with separate submission of the supraspinal accessory lymph node pad for pathologic evaluation to determine the incidence of nodal metastases.
Results: A total of 15 patients (32%) had microscopic metastatic squamous cell carcinoma involving the supraomohyoid neck dissection specimen. Only 1 patient had a metastatic deposit involving the supraspinal accessory lymph node pad. This patient also had metastases in additional lymph nodes at level II. There was an equal incidence of metastases for all patients when stratifying by T stage.
Conclusion: This preliminary report reveals a small incidence of supraspinal accessory lymph node metastases in patients with T + NO squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx. We continue to accrue patients to determine if the incidence of supraspinal accessory lymph node metastases varies with an increased number of patients.