Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
In this Article
- What is a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What is the lymphatic drainage?
- Why do a biopsy of the sentinel node?
- How does a tumor spread?
- How is it determined which is the sentinel node?
- What types of specialists perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What happens during a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What does the sentinel lymph node biopsy show?
- What are the benefits of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What are the side effects and complications of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- Is the use of the sentinel lymph node biopsy common?
- What is the recovery time after a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
What does the sentinel lymph node biopsy show?
Biopsy of the sentinel lymph node can reveal whether there are or are not lymphatic metastases, which are tumor cells that have journeyed from the original primary tumor into the lymphatic drainage system. The sentinel node can be rapidly evaluated while the patient is still in surgery utilizing the technique of frozen section analysis. The final report on the sentinel node awaits the final analysis by the pathologist on what is called formalin fixed tissue.
If the sentinel node contains tumor cells, removal of more nodes in the area may be warranted. This may be done during the same procedure if the first sample is evaluated while the patient is still in the operating room. If the sentinel node is normal, it is unnecessary to perform an extensive dissection of the regional lymph-node basin.
What are the benefits of a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
The sentinel node biopsy allows the examination of one lymph node to first determine if a tumor has spread to the lymph nodes at all. If the sentinel node is negative for tumor cells, it is not necessary to surgically remove additional lymph nodes. The procedure helps certain patients avoid more extensive surgical procedures involving the removal of multiple lymph nodes, such as axillary lymph node dissection in patients with breast cancer.
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