Non-visualization of sentinel lymph nodes in penile carcinoma
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The purpose of this study was to analyse the incidence and cause of non-visualization of sentinel lymph nodes on preoperative lymphoscintigrams for penile cancer and its implications for further management.
Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy was performed after injection of 99mTc-labelled nanocolloid in 123 clinically node-negative penile carcinoma patients. Anterior dynamic lymphoscintigraphy was performed during 20 min immediately after tracer injection. Subsequently, 5-min anterior and lateral static images were obtained 30 min and 2 h post injection.
Lymphatic drainage to both groins was seen in 98 patients (79%), unilateral drainage in 23 patients (19%) and no drainage at all in two patients (2%). Thus, in 27 (11%) of 246 groins, no sentinel node was visualized. The amount of administered tracer dose was associated with non-visualization (p=0.01). Unilateral drainage was initially interpreted as a normal physiological phenomenon. After the occurrence of a tumour-positive node in a non-visualized groin, we explore non-visualized groins by blue dye mapping and intraoperative palpation. Sentinel nodes were retrieved in four out of eight such groins, of which one contained metastasis.
In penile carcinoma patients, preoperative lymphoscintigraphy visualizes a sentinel node in 89% of groins. Visualization depends on the administered tracer dose. It is worthwhile to explore non-visualized groins. Sentinel nodes can be intraoperatively identified in more than half of these cases.
KeywordsScintigraphy Penile neoplasms Sentinel node concept Radionuclide studies Lymphatic system