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Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Melanoma: Comparison of Lymphocele Rates by Surgical Technique

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Lymphocele is a common wound complication of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). The surgical technique may play a key role in lymphocele formation. This study compared rates of postoperative lymphocele formation by different surgical techniques (Harmonic Scalpel [HS], LigaSure [LS], and traditional electrocautery with clips) after SLNB in the groin or axilla for the staging of clinically node-negative cutaneous melanoma. Patients were selected by convenience sample from a single-institution, single-surgeon, prospectively collected melanoma database over a 27-month period. One hundred fifty consecutive patients underwent SLNB, 70 with clips, 37 with HS, and 43 with LS. The median number of nodes removed was two and did not vary significantly between groups. Twenty-three lymphoceles occurred for an overall rate of 15 per cent; rates were 9.9 and 26.5 per cent for the axilla and groin, respectively. Sixteen (70%) were aspirated for size or symptoms; lymphoceles after groin SLNB were significantly (P = 0.03) more likely to require aspiration. Lymphocele rates for the clip, HS, and LS groups were 20.0, 18.9, and 4.7 per cent, respectively. The differences between the LS and other groups were statistically significant. Use of the LS may lead to lower lymphocele rates after groin and axillary SLNB compared with electrocautery and clips.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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