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Keywords:

  • head and neck;
  • indocyanine green;
  • melanoma;
  • sentinel lymph node biopsy;
  • skin cancer

Abstract

The standard technique using lymphoscintigraphy, blue dye and a gamma probe has established a reliable method for sentinel node biopsy for skin cancer. However, the detection rate of cervical sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) is generally lower than that of inguinal or axillary SLN because of the complexity of lymphatic drainage in the head and neck region and the “shine-through” phenomenon. Recently, indocyanine green fluorescence imaging has been reported as a new method to detect SLN. We hypothesized that fluorescence navigation with indocyanine green in combination with the standard technique would improve the detection rate of cervical sentinel nodes. We performed cervical sentinel node biopsies using the standard technique in 20 basins of 18 patients (group A) and using fluorescence navigation in combination with the standard technique in 12 basins of 16 patients (group B). The mean number of sentinel nodes was two per basin (range, 1–4) in group A and three per basin (range, 1–5) in group B. The detection rate of sentinel nodes was 83% (29/35) in group A and 95% (36/38) in group B. The false-negative rate was 6% (1/18 patients) in group A and 0% in group B. Fluorescence navigation with indocyanine green may improve the cervical sentinel node detection rate. However, greater collection of data regarding the usefulness of cervical sentinel node biopsy using indocyanine green is necessary.