Send to

Choose Destination
Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Sep;145(3):375-82. doi: 10.1177/0194599811408554. Epub 2011 May 3.

Sentinel node biopsy for head and neck melanoma: a systematic review.

Author information

Duke University, Durham, NC, USA.



This systematic review was conducted to examine the test performance of sentinel node biopsy in head and neck melanoma, including the identification rate and false-negative rate.


PubMed, EMBASE, ASCO, and SSO database searches were conducted to identify studies fulfilling the following inclusion criteria: sentinel node biopsy was performed, lesions were located on the head and neck, and recurrence data for both metastatic and nonmetastatic patients were reported.


Dual-blind data extraction was conducted. Primary outcomes included identification rate and test performance based on completion neck dissection or nodal recurrence.


A total of 3442 patients from 32 studies published between 1990 and 2009 were reviewed. Seventy-eight percent of studies were retrospective and 22% were prospective. Trials varied from 9 to 755 patients (median 55). Mean Breslow depth was 2.53 mm. Median sentinel node biopsy identification rate was 95.2%. More than 1 basin was reported in 33.1% of patients. A median of 2.56 sentinel nodes per patient were excised. Sentinel node biopsy was positive in 15% of patients. Subsequent completion neck dissection was performed in almost all of these patients and revealed additional positive nodes in 13.67%. Median follow-up was 31 months. Across all studies, predictive value positive for nodal recurrence was 13.1% and posttest probability negative was 5%. Median false-negative rate for nodal recurrence was 20.4%.


Sentinel node biopsy of head and neck melanoma is associated with an increased false-negative rate compared with studies of non-head and neck lesions. Positive sentinel node status is highly predictive of recurrence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center