Aim The study examined the feasibility and potential benefit of ex vivo sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping, including multilevel sectioning (MLS) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) in colon cancer patients undergoing laparoscopic colectomy. The secondary goals were (i) to identify patient and tumour characteristics that might influence the success of the SLN technique, (ii) to investigate the extent of lymphadenectomy required to encompass tumour-positive nonsentinel lymph nodes (NSLN) and (iii) to ascertain the association of SLN status with oncological outcomes. Method SLN mapping was performed after specimen extraction using 1% Isosulfan blue. The SLNs were analysed with H&E staining after MLS, and if negative, IHC was performed. NSLNs were grouped by distance either greater than or less than 4cm from the tumour. Results Seventy-one patients completed the study between 2003 and 2007. Using H&E with MLS, the accuracy of SLN mapping was 76%, sensitivity was 52% and the false-negative rate was 48%. Excluding patients with clinically positive lymph nodes resulted in a significant improvement in accuracy to 81% and decreased the false-negative rate to 30%. Furthermore, as the only positive NSLN >4cm from the tumour was grossly positive, SLN mapping with a 4-cm mesenteric cuff would have given 100% sensitivity in patients without macroscopically involved nodes. Conclusions SLN mapping may be of value in selected patients. It may be possible to accurately stage patients with a 4-cm cuff of mesentery, although further validation of this proposal is required.
- Sentinel lymph node