Confirmation of sentinel lymph node identity by analysis of fine-needle biopsy samples using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry

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Journal Article
Annals of Surgical Oncology, 2008, 15 (3), pp. 934 - 940
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Background: The sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy technique is a reliable means of determining the tumor-harboring status of regional lymph nodes in melanoma patients. When technetium 99 m-labeled antimony trisulfide colloid (99 mTc-Sb2S3) particles are used to perform preoperative lymphoscintigraphy for SLN identification, they are retained in the SLN but are absent or present in only tiny amounts in non-SLNs. The present study investigated the potential for a novel means of assessing the accuracy of surgical identification of SLNs. This involved the use of inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to analyze antimony concentrations in fine-needle biopsy (FNB) samples from surgically procured lymph nodes. Methods: A total of 47 FNB samples from surgically excised lymph nodes (32 SLNs and 15 non-SLNs) were collected. The SLNs were localized by preoperative lymphoscintigraphy that used 99 mTc-Sb2S3, blue dye, and gamma probe techniques. The concentrations of antimony were measured in the FNB samples by ICP-MS. Results: The mean and median antimony concentrations (in parts per billion) were .898 and .451 in the SLNs, and .015 and .068 in the non-SLNs, the differences being highly statistically significant (P < .00005). Conclusions: Our results show that ICP-MS analysis of antimony concentrations in FNB specimens from lymph nodes can accurately confirm the identity of SLNs. Used in conjunction with techniques such as proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the nonsurgical evaluation of SLNs, ICP-MS analysis of antimony concentrations in FNB samples could potentially serve as a minimally invasive alternative to surgery and histopathologic evaluation to objectively classify a given node as sentinel or nonsentinel and determine its tumor-harboring status. © 2007 The Author(s).
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