Laparoscopic detection of sentinel lymph nodes followed by lymph node dissection in patients with early stage cervical cancer.
Lingen, A. van
Diest, P.J. van
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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of sentinel node detection through laparoscopy in patients with early cervical cancer. Furthermore, the results of laparoscopic pelvic lymph node dissection were studied, validated by subsequent laparotomy. METHODS: Twenty-five patients with early stage cervical cancer who planned to undergo a radical hysterectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection received an intracervical injection of technetium-99m colloidal albumin as well as blue dye. With a laparoscopic gamma probe and with visual detection of blue nodes, the sentinel nodes were identified and separately removed via laparoscopy. If frozen sections of the sentinel nodes were negative, a laparoscopic pelvic lymph node dissection, followed by radical hysterectomy via laparotomy, was performed. If the sentinel nodes showed malignant cells on frozen section, only a laparoscopic lymph node dissection was performed. RESULTS: One or more sentinel nodes could be detected via laparoscopy in 25/25 patients (100%). A sentinel node was found bilaterally in 22/25 patients (88%). Histological positive nodes were detected in 10/25 patients (40%). One patient (11%) had two false negative sentinel nodes in the obturator fossa, whereas a positive lymph node was found in the parametrium removed together with the primary tumor. In seven patients (28%), the planned laparotomy and radical hysterectomy were abandoned because of a positive sentinel node. Bulky lymph nodes were removed through laparotomy in one patient, and in six patients only laparoscopic lymph node dissection and transposition of the ovaries were performed. These patients were treated with chemoradiation. In two patients, a micrometastasis in the sentinel node was demonstrated after surgery. Ninety-two percent of all lymph nodes was retrieved via laparoscopy, confirmed by laparotomy. Detection and removal of the sentinel nodes took 55 +/- 17 min. Together with the complete pelvic lymph node dissection, the procedure lasted 200 +/- 53 min. CONCLUSION: Laparoscopic removal of sentinel nodes in cervical cancer is a feasible technique. If radical hysterectomy is aborted in the case of positive lymph nodes, sentinel node detection via laparoscopy, followed by laparoscopic lymph node dissection, prevents potentially harmful and unnecessary surgery.