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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1999 Feb;117(2):220-4.

Intraoperative lymphatic mapping for non-small cell lung cancer: the sentinel node technique.

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  • 1University of Nevada School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Las Vegas, Nev., USA.



The purpose of the study was to determine the accuracy and role of the sentinel node technique in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.


This study was carried out on 36 consecutive patients undergoing lung resection. Peritumoral tissue was infiltrated with isosulfan blue dye and the first lymph node to stain was identified as a sentinel node. Sensitivity and specificity of the sentinel node in predicting the status of other lymph node stations were determined.


Seventeen patients had sentinel lymph nodes. In 9 of these 17 cases neither the sentinel node nor any other lymph node contained metastatic carcinoma. In 5 cases the sentinel node was in the mediastinum and documented unexpected N2 disease. In 19 patients no sentinel node was found. Final lymph node statuses were N0 in 13 patients, N1 in 5, and N2 in 1.


The use of isosulfan blue for intraoperative lymphatic mapping is feasible. The specificity in our experience was good; 9 of 9 patients with negative sentinel nodes were found to be N0 on the final pathology report. Unexpected N2 disease was found in 5 patients. The accumulation of further experience will determine the role of the sentinel node technique in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

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