Sentinel node biopsy in patients with cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck

L. Maffioli, F. Belli, G. Gallino, A. Ditto, M. R. Castellani, M. Testoni, E. Sturm, E. Bombardieri, N. Cascinelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biopsy of head and neck sentinel nodes (SNs) can be technically problematic due to the unpredictable and variable drainage patterns of this anatomic region. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility of SN biopsy for cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck. We performed SN biopsy in 17 patients affected by stage I cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck on the basis of lymphoscintigraphy, blue dye and gamma probe. A total of 24 procedures were performed. Drainage to more than one lymphatic basin was observed in five patients (two basins in three cases and three basins in two cases) and in all cases SN biopsy was performed in all basins. The biopsy distribution by site was: six cervical nodes, five parotid nodes, four supraclavicular and submandibular nodes, three auricular and axillary nodes. The SN identification rate was 87.5% (21/24); metastases were discovered in four cases, with a positivity rate of 23.6%. At the time of writing, 1 patient is alive with local disease, 3 patients are dead and 13 are alive and free of disease with a follow-up ranging from 1 to 40 months (median, 21 months) following SN biopsy. In our opinion preoperative lymphoscintigraphy and the intraoperative use of a gamma probe are useful for the identification of lymphatic drainage of cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-342
Number of pages2
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Head and neck
  • Lymphoscintigraphy
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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