In this study, the prevalence of additional positive lymph nodes in subsequent complete lymphadenectomy specimens for patients with early-stage melanoma of the head and neck, after positive sentinel lymphadenectomy results, was retrospectively analyzed. In the past 5 years at the authors' institution, 23 consecutive patients with clinical stage I or stage II melanoma of the head and neck underwent complete lymphadenectomies after positive sentinel lymph node biopsies and wide local excisions of the primary lesions. Sentinel lymph nodes were identified with intraoperative lymphatic mapping techniques (radiolymphoscintigraphy and vital blue dye injection) and were examined with routine histological methods and immunohistochemical staining for S-100. All lymph nodes harvested in complete lymphadenectomies were examined with routine histological techniques. Twenty-one patients (91.3 percent) demonstrated no additional positive lymph nodes in subsequent complete lymphadenectomy specimens; two patients (8.7 percent) each demonstrated one additional positive lymph node in the complete lymphadenectomy specimens. Both patients had ulcerated primary lesions more than 5 mm in depth. No patient developed a regional nodal recurrence during a mean follow-up period of 23.7 months (range, 2 to 56 months). The low prevalence of additional positive lymph nodes in complete lymphadenectomy specimens suggests that when microscopic metastases exist in the regional nodal basin, most of the time they are confined to the sentinel lymph nodes of patients with early-stage melanoma of the head and neck. Nevertheless, the question of whether subsequent complete lymphadenectomy is still necessary for this subgroup of patients warrants further study.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery|
|State||Published - Jul 2003|
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