Sentinel Node Biopsy
What is Lymphoscintigraphy?
Lymphoscintigraphy is a test that is used in the staging of certain types of cancer. It will check to
see if it may have spread to any lymph nodes. This test helps to trace the path at which a tumor
may drain, and what lymph node it may drain to. The first lymph node that the tumor may
spread to is called the sentinel lymph node. This test may be done on the same day of your
surgery. It takes place in the nuclear medicine department just before your surgery.
How is the test done?
You will be given an injection of a radioactive tracer near or at the site of the tumor. There may
be some pain. About 15 minutes before the biopsy your doctor injects a blue dye in the same
place. During the biopsy, your doctor looks at the lymph nodes. The imaging is used to check
which lymph nodes have taken up the radioactive tracer. One or more nodes may take up the
dye and radioactive tracer. These nodes are the sentinel lymph nodes. Your surgeon then
removes these lymph nodes and sends them to a pathologist for quick examination under a
microscope to look for the presence of cancer.
What can I expect after the test?
Your surgeon will do the rest of your surgery under general anesthesia. You will then be taken
to the recovery room. You may notice that your urine is blue in color from the dye. This should
go away within 24 hours. You will follow up with your surgeon for the final results of the
biopsy at your next appointment.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7312.