Background: Radio-guided detection of sentinel nodes (SNs) has been used to predict regional metastases in patients with malignant melanoma and breast cancer. However, the validity of the SN hypothesis is still controversial for gastrointestinal cancers including gastric cancer. The aim of this study was to test the feasibility and accuracy of radio-guided mapping of SNs for gastric cancer. Methods: Some 145 consecutive patients with gastric cancer diagnosed as T1 or T2 and evaluated clinically as N0 were enrolled. Endoscopic injection of technetium-99m-radiolabelled tin colloid was performed before operation and radioactive SNs were identified with a γ probe. Standard radical gastrectomy with lymphadenectomy was performed in all patients and all resected nodes were evaluated by routine histopathological examination. Results: Using radio-guided methods, SNs were detected in 138 (95.2 per cent) of 145 patients. The SN was positive in 22 of 24 patients with lymph node metastasis. The incidence of metastasis in the SNs (7.8 per cent) was significantly higher than that in the non-SNs (0.3 per cent) (P < 0.01). The diagnostic accuracy according to SN status was 98.6 per cent (136 of 138). Conclusion: Radio-guided SN mappíng is an accurate díagnostic procedure for detecting lymph node metastasis in patients with early-stage gastric cancer.
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