Sentinel lymph node investigation in melanoma: Detailed analysis of the yield from step sectioning and immunohistochemistry

H. A. Gietema, R. J.C.L.M. Vuylsteke, I. A. De Jonge, P. A.M. Van Leeuwen, B. G. Molenkemp, J. R.M. Van Der Sijp, S. Meijer, P. J. Van Diest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To evaluate in detail the extent to which step sectioning and immunohistochemical examination of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) in patients with melanoma reveal additional node positive patients, to arrive at a sensitive yet workable protocol for histopathological SLN examination. Methods: The study comprised 29 patients with one or more positive SLN after a successful SLN procedure for clinical stage I/II melanoma. SLNs were lamellated into pieces of approximately 0.5 cm in size. One initial haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained central cross section was made for each block. When negative, four step ribbons were cut at intervals of 250 μm. One section from each ribbon was stained with H&E, and one was used for immunohistochemistry (IHC). Results: When taking the cumulative total of detected metastases at level 5 as 100%, the percentage of SLN positive patients increased from 79%, 83%, 83%, 90% to 93% in the H&E sections through levels 1-5, and with IHC these values were 83%, 86%, 90%, 97%, and 100%, respectively. One of six patients in whom metastases were detected at levels 2-5 only had metastases in the subsequent additional lymph node dissection. Conclusions: Multiple level sectioning of SLNs (five levels at 250 μm intervals) and the use of IHC detects additional metastases up to the last level in melanoma SLNs. Although more levels of sectioning might increase the yield even further, this protocol ensures a reasonable workload for the pathologist with an acceptable sensitivity when compared with the published literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-620
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of clinical pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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