What is a Lymphoscintigraphy Study?
A lymphoscintigraphy study is for patients with known or suspected malignancy of the skin or breast. This test is done to localize the sentinel lymph node for surgical excision. The sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node that drains the lymphatic system in an area of your body with known malignancy.
How should I prepare for a Lymphoscintigraphy Study?
There is no prep for this test. This test is done on the same day as surgery so you should follow your preoperative restrictions.
How long does the test take?
This test takes about one hour. When you arrive to the Nuclear Medicine department a technologist will explain the test to you and have you put on a gown. You will be positioned on the imaging table so that the doctor is able to easily get to the area of interest. This test is either done for breast cancer or skin melanoma. If you are having this test because of breast cancer then a nuclear medicine physician will be giving you 3-4 injections under the skin around the breast areola. If you are having this test for skin melanoma the injections will be under the skin around the area where a positive biopsy was performed. These injections are a small amount of a radioactive isotope and there are no side effects from the injections. Most patients describe the injections as feeling like a bee sting because they are given right under the skin. After the doctor is finished with the injections a series of images will be taken, these images will allow the doctor to determine which node is the sentinel node. The doctors, in surgery, will then perform a biopsy of this lymph node.
How soon will the scan results be available?
Immediately after the images are taken, the technologist will print them and have the doctor mark the sentinel node.
It is essential to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant before undergoing this scan because of radiation exposure.