Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 2133–2140

Yield and Predictors of Radiologic Studies for Identifying Distant Metastases in Melanoma Patients with a Positive Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy


  • Jason S. Gold
    • Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • David P. Jaques
    • Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Klaus J. Busam
    • Department of PathologyMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Mary S. Brady
    • Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
    • Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

DOI: 10.1245/s10434-007-9399-3

Cite this article as:
Gold, J.S., Jaques, D.P., Busam, K.J. et al. Ann Surg Oncol (2007) 14: 2133. doi:10.1245/s10434-007-9399-3



It is common to obtain radiological studies around the time of a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) to exclude patients with distant metastases from completion lymph node dissection. The yield of such a work-up is unknown.


Patients were identified from a prospectively maintained database. Medical records were reviewed.


Over an 8-year period, 181 patients had a positive SLNB. At least one study (computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain; chest x-ray; computed tomography of the thorax, abdomen, or pelvis; positron-emission tomography scan; or bone scan) was obtained around the time of SLNB in 178 patients (98%). Studies were obtained after SLNB in 107 patients (59%). Studies ordered after SLNB resulted in indeterminate findings in 51 patients (48% of those studied). Among patients tested after SLNB, four were found to have metastatic disease (positive rate 3.7%). All of these patients had both a thick melanoma and macrometastasis within the SLN. The number of patients with indeterminate findings would be decreased and the yield of the work-up increased by 4 fold, by restricting the work-up to those with thick melanoma and macrometastasis.


Radiological studies obtained after a positive SLN produce indeterminate findings in about half of the patients and identify distant disease in 3.7%. Restricting work-up to patients with thick melanoma and macrometastasis on SLNB would spare patients from indeterminate findings and increase the yield of the evaluation.


MelanomaSentinel lymph nodeMetastasisComputed tomographyPositron-emission tomographyRadiology

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© Society of Surgical Oncology 2007