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Gynecol Oncol. 2008 Oct;111(1):13-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2008.06.009. Epub 2008 Aug 5.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy in early-stage cervical cancer: utility of intraoperative versus postoperative assessment.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



To determine the diagnostic accuracy of sentinel lymph node (SLN) detection using lymphoscintigraphy, intraoperative blue dye, and radiocolloid in patients with early-stage cervical cancer.


Intra-cervical injection of technetium-99 sulfur colloid and lymphoscintigraphy were performed preoperatively. Isosulfan blue was injected intra-cervically immediately prior to surgery. SLNs were excised and examined intraoperatively (imprint cytology and frozen section) and postoperatively (H and E histology and immunohistochemistry (IHC) for cytokeratin).


Thirty eight patients were evaluable. Laparoscopy and laparotomy were performed in 28.9% and 71.1%, respectively. Subjects had squamous cell carcinoma (n=26), adenocarcinoma (n=10) or adenosquamous (n=2) histologies. 55.3% had cervical tumors <2 cm. The overall SLN detection rate was 92.1%. The external iliac region just distal to the common iliac bifurcation was the most common SLN location. A mean of 2.1 SLNs were detected per patient with bilateral SLNs observed in 47.4%. On final pathology, metastatic nodal disease was identified in 15.7% of patients. Of these, 83.3% were detected in the SLNs. Sensitivity of SLN detection of metastasis was 100% for patients with cervical tumors <2 cm. However intraoperative evaluation by imprint cytology and frozen section correctly identified lymph node metastasis in only 33.3%.


SLN detection is feasible and accurately reflects pelvic nodal basin status when performed in early-stage cervical cancer patients. However, while current intraoperative pathology techniques for assessing nodal metastases reliably detect metastases larger than 2 mm, they lack sufficient sensitivity to detect micrometastasis and isolated tumor cells.

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