Objective: The objective of this retrospective clinical review was to assess the safety and accuracy of intraparotid sentinel node biopsy in patients with melanoma.
Setting. This study was conducted at a tertiary referral center.
Patients: Twenty-eight patients with cutaneous melanoma of the head and neck undergoing sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy in which the radionuclide localized to the parotid gland on preoperative lymphoscintigraphy were studied.
Methods: All patients underwent wide local excision of the tumor and intraparotid sentinel node biopsy using intraoperative gamma probe localization.
Results: There were 25 men and 3 women ranging in age from 34 to 81 years. The primary site was on the auricle in 14 patients: temple, 4; forehead, 5; cheek, 3; and on the neck in 2 patients, respectively. The mean Breslow thickness was 2.3 mm (range, 0.9–7.0 mm). In 27 of 28 patients, an intraparotid SLN was identified. In one patient, final pathology did not reveal lymphoid tissue despite a high count in the parotid tissue excised. Median number of SLN per patient was two. Six patients had microscopic metastases in the SLN. In two of these patients, additional microscopic lymph node metastases were found in the neck after subsequent formal lymphadenectomy. The pathologic staging for the group (n = 14) was: stage 1B, 4; 2A, 4; stage 2B, 3; and stage 3B, 3 patients, respectively. All patients are alive and without evidence of disease (mean follow up, 31 months). There were no surgical complications, specifically no patient experienced temporary or permanent facial paralysis.
Conclusion: Intraparotid SLN biopsy for staging cutaneous head and neck melanoma is a reliable, accurate, and safe procedure.