Sentinel lymph node biopsy is an established technique for melanoma staging.
There are no studies available comparing different techniques for the removal of sentinel lymph nodes related to safety and postsurgical complication rate.
This is a retrospective single-center trial. We analyzed the postsurgical complications in 201 consecutive melanoma patients with ligature of lymphatic vessels by sutures (group A) and in 91 consecutive patients with occlusion of lymphatic vessels by bipolar tweezers (group B). We paid particular attention to complications related to disturbed lymphatic function, such as lymph edema, lymphatic fistula, and seroma.
The complication rate was 5.5 % (group A) and 9.6 % (group B) which is in the range of other published trials (p = 0.89). There was no increase of complications related to lymphatic vessels in group B, although the rate of patients with more than two sentinel lymph nodes removed was 5‑times higher than in group A.
Removal of sentinel lymph nodes with the use of bipolar tweezers does not increase the risk of postsurgical complications, and in particular it is not associated with a higher rate of complications related to lymphatic vessel dysfunction.