Re: Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Specimen Handling
Donna Carlton (where?) asks:
>>I am interested in information regarding radioactivity used in the lymph
node procedure for breast tissue. I have been assured by radiology that the
hazard after 24 hours is minimal.<<
I suppose you refer to sentinel lymph node biopsy using technetium 99m sulfur
colloid to mark lymph nodes. I think this topic has been addressed on
Histonet before, but I may be thinking of the pathology list.
Technetium 99m (Tc-99m) is a short-lived (6 hours) gamma emitter. The short
answer to this question is - it wouldn't matter if you ATE the specimen when
you received it. Ordinary gloves and dissection technique provide more than
The long answer, unfortunately, is that radiation safety rituals may require
the specimen be stored for ten half-lives (60 hours) before you may touch it.
This is clearly neither acceptable histologic practice nor are surgeons going
to put up with it.
Sentinel node biopsy is a clinically useful technique for breast cancer and
melanoma, but it takes so much of the surgeon's and the OR staff's time that
it isn't at all clear that the procedure is practical, and it may not be with
us for much longer.
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