A prospective investigation of fluorescence imaging to detect sentinel lymph nodes at robotic-assisted endometrial cancer staging

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The accuracy of sentinel lymph node mapping has been shown in endometrial cancer, but studies to date have primarily focused on cohorts at low risk for nodal involvement. In our practice, we acknowledge the lack of benefit of lymphadenectomy in the low-risk subgroup and omit lymph node removal in these patients. Thus, our aim was to evaluate the feasibility and accuracy of sentinel node mapping in women at sufficient risk for nodal metastasis warranting lymphadenectomy and in whom the potential benefit of avoiding nodal procurement could be realized.


To evaluate the detection rate and accuracy of fluorescence-guided sentinel lymph node mapping in endometrial cancer patients undergoing robotic-assisted staging.

Study Design:

One hundred twenty-three endometrial cancer patients undergoing sentinel lymph node sentinel node mapping using indocyanine green were prospectively evaluated. Two mL (1.0 mg/mL) of dye were injected into the cervical stroma divided between the 2−3 and 9−10 o'clock positions at the time of uterine manipulator placement. Before hysterectomy, the retroperitoneal spaces were developed and fluorescence imaging was used for sentinel node detection. Identified sentinel nodes were removed and submitted for touch prep intraoperatively, followed by permanent assessment with routine hematoxylin and eosin levels. Patients then underwent hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and completion bilateral pelvic and periaortic lymphadenectomy based on intrauterine risk factors determined intraoperatively (tumor size >2 cm, >50% myometrial invasion, and grade 3 histology).


Of 123 patients enrolled, at least 1 sentinel node was detected in 119 (96.7%). Ninety-nine patients (80%) had bilateral pelvic or periaortic sentinel nodes detected. A total of 85 patients met criteria warranting completion lymphadenectomy. In 14 patients (16%) periaortic lymphadenectomy was not feasible, and the mean number of pelvic nodes procured was 13 (6−22). Of the 71 patients undergoing pelvic and periaortic lymphadenectomy, the mean nodal count was 23.2 (8−51). Of patients undergoing lymphadenectomy, 10.6% had lymph node metastasis on final hematoxylin and eosin evaluation. Notably, the sentinel node was the only positive node in 44% of cases. There were no cases in which final pathology of the sentinel node was negative and metastatic disease was detected upon completion lymphadenectomy in the non-sentinel nodes (no false negatives), yielding a sensitivity of 100%. Of the 14 sentinel nodes ultimately found to harbor metastases, 3 were negative on touch prep, yielding a sensitivity of 78.6% for intraoperative detection of sentinel node involvement. In all 3 of the false-negative touch preps, final pathology detected a single micrometastasis (0.24 mm, 1.4 mm, 1.5 mm). As expected, there were no false-positive results, yielding a specificity of 100%. No complications related to sentinel node mapping or allergic reactions to the dye were encountered.


Intraoperative sentinel node mapping using fluorescence imaging with indocyanine green in endometrial cancer patients is feasible and yields high detection rates. In our pilot study, sentinel node mapping identified all women with Stage IIIC disease. Low false-negative rates are encouraging, and if confirmed in multi-institutional trials, this approach would be anticipated to reduce the morbidity, operative times, and costs associated with complete pelvic and periaortic lymphadenectomy.

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