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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2002 Sep;124(3):486-92.

Use of technetium-99m tin colloid for sentinel lymph node identification in non-small cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Departments of Thoracic Surgery and Pathology, Saiseikai Central Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.



To test the reliability of sentinel lymph node identification in non-small cell lung cancer, sentinel nodes were localized with a radioactive colloid in patients undergoing surgery.


Forty-six patients with non-small cell lung cancer undergoing curative resection with mediastinal lymph node dissection were examined. The day before surgery, technetium-99m ((99m)Tc) tin colloid was injected into the peritumoral region. At operation, the radioactivity of the lymph nodes was counted with a handheld gamma counter before (in vivo) and after (ex vivo) dissection. Lymph nodes with an ex vivo radioactive count more than 10 times the background value were identified as sentinel nodes. The correlation between the in vivo and ex vivo results was examined.


Lymphoscintigraphy revealed that it took longer than 6 hours for sufficient (99m)Tc tin colloid to reach the sentinel nodes. Sentinel nodes could be identified in 40 patients (87%). Patients whose sentinel nodes could not be identified had a significantly lower ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second to forced vital capacity than did those with identifiable sentinel nodes (P =.03). No false-negative sentinel nodes were detected in 14 patients with N1 or N2 disease (0%). In the hilar lymph node stations, the lobar lymph nodes were most frequently identified as sentinel nodes (as often as 85% of the time). Fourteen patients (35%) had sentinel nodes in the mediastinum, the distribution of which depended on the lobe. In vivo and ex vivo counting showed 88% concurrence for the identification of sentinel nodes in mediastinal lymph node stations.


The identification of sentinel nodes with (99m)Tc tin colloid is a reliable method of establishing the first site of nodal metastasis in non- small cell lung cancer. Sentinel nodes could be hardly identified in patients with a low ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 second to forced vital capacity because of such conditions as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In vivo identification of sentinel nodes in the mediastinum could be useful approach to guide mediastinal lymph node sampling or dissection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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