Sentinel lymph node biopsy for melanoma: Comparison of lymphocele rates by surgical technique

Ian White, Jane K. Mills, Brian Diggs, Jeanine Fortino Hima, Michelle C. Ellis, John T. Vetto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-392
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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