Canine mast cell tumours (MCTs) typically spread to lymph nodes (LNs) before reaching distant sites, and LN assessment is an important part of MCT staging. Sentinel LN (SLN) mapping techniques to identify draining LNs are being developed and could improve the accuracy of MCT staging. The primary objective of this feasibility study was to determine the safety and effectiveness of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) to identify SLNs. Secondary objectives were to determine if the SLNs identified by CEUS coincided with the regional LN predicted by the anatomical lymphosomes, if previous MCT excision altered CEUS SLN findings, and if CEUS could identify MCT nodal metastases. Between June 2017 and March 2019, 59 dogs with 62 MCTs were enrolled. No adverse events related to CEUS were reported. CEUS detected at least 1 SLN in 59/62 MCTs (95.2%, 95% CI: 86.5-99.0%). In only 32/59 (54.2%) MCTs, clinicians would have correctly predicted the SLN(s) identified by CEUS. Among the 35 MCTs that had histological examination of the SLN(s), the prevalence of metastasis was 60% (95% CI: 42.1-76.1%). Additional staging procedures did not reveal any metastases in dogs with histologically non-metastatic SLNs. Integration of CEUS SLN mapping into the routine staging of MCTs is promising, but future studies are required to refine this procedure and to investigate if it would translate into a clinical benefit.
- Sentinel Lymph Node