New developments in imaging for sentinel lymph node biopsy in early-stage oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma

Rutger Mahieu, Josanne S. de Maar, Eliane R. Nieuwenhuis, Roel Deckers, Chrit Moonen, Lejla Alic, Bennie ten Haken, Bart de Keizer, Remco de Bree*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a diagnostic staging procedure that aims to identify the first draining lymph node(s) from the primary tumor, the sentinel lymph nodes (SLN), as their histopathological status reflects the histopathological status of the rest of the nodal basin. The routine SLNB procedure consists of peritumoral injections with a technetium-99m [99mTc]-labelled radiotracer followed by lymphoscintigraphy and SPECT-CT imaging. Based on these imaging results, the identified SLNs are marked for surgical extirpation and are subjected to histopathological assessment. The routine SLNB procedure has proven to reliably stage the clinically negative neck in early-stage oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). However, an infamous limitation arises in situations where SLNs are located in close vicinity of the tracer injection site. In these cases, the hotspot of the injection site can hide adjacent SLNs and hamper the discrimination between tracer injection site and SLNs (shine-through phenomenon). Therefore, technical developments are needed to bring the diagnostic accuracy of SLNB for early-stage OSCC to a higher level. This review evaluates novel SLNB imaging techniques for early-stage OSCC: MR lymphography, CT lymphography, PET lymphoscintigraphy and contrast-enhanced lymphosonography. Furthermore, their reported diagnostic accuracy is described and their relative merits, disadvantages and potential applications are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3055
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020


  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphatic metastases
  • Lymphatics
  • Mouth neoplasms
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck
  • Tracer


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