Nowadays, two predominant methods for detecting sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) in cervical cancer are in use. The most conventional method is a combination of a radiotracer, technetium-99m (99mTc) and blue dye. More recently, another method for SLN mapping using indocyanine green (ICG) is becoming widely accepted. ICG is a fluorescent dye, visualised intraoperatively with near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging, providing real-time visual navigation.
We initiated a prospective non-inferiority study with a paired comparison of both SLN methods in a single sample of 101 patients with International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) stage IA-IB2 or IIA1 cervical cancer receiving primary surgical treatment. All patients undergo SLN mapping with ICG and NIR fluorescence imaging in adjunct to mapping with 99mTc (including single photon emission computed tomography with X-ray computed tomography (SPECT/CT)) and blue dye. Surgeons start SLN detection with ICG while being blinded for the preoperative outcome of SPECT/CT to avoid biased detection with ICG.
Primary endpoint of this study is bilateral SLN detection rate of both methods (ie, detection of at least one SLN in each hemipelvis). Since we compare strategies for SLN mapping that are already applied in current daily practice for different types of cancer, no additional risks or burdens are expected from these study procedures. Ethics and dissemination: The current study is approved by the Medical Ethics Research Committee Utrecht (reference number 21-014). Findings arising from this study will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals, academic conferences and through patient organisations.