OBJECTIVES: We evaluated lymphosonography, or contrast-enhanced, ultrasonography (US)-guided sentinel lymph node (SLN) detection, as a technique for demonstrating the lymphatic drainage of the thyroid gland. METHODS: In this prospective animal study, four 50-kg Yorkshire swine underwent transcutaneous injection of a US contrast agent and methylene blue dye into the thyroid gland. Contrast-enhanced US was used to identify draining lymphatic channels and SLNs. Sentinel node biopsy was conducted. Subsequently, bilateral neck and upper mediastinal dissection was carried out. RESULTS: In 3 of 4 cases, a blue dye-positive and US contrast-positive SLN was identified. We identified SLNs in level IV in 2 cases. One case revealed 2 adjacent nodes in the superior mediastinum. In 1 case, a lymphatic channel was identified traveling into the mediastinum, but exposure of the SLN could not be obtained. No residual blue dye-positive or US contrast-positive nodes were identified on subsequent dissection. CONCLUSIONS: Lymphosonography of the thyroid gland in a porcine model correlates well with blue dye-guided sentinel node biopsy and is technically feasible, although in some cases access to the SLN may be difficult. This technique could potentially enable a detailed analysis of thyroidal lymphatic drainage if applied to humans.
Curry, Joseph M.; Ezzat, Waleed H.; Merton, Daniel A.; Goldberg, Barry B.; Cognetti, David M.; Rosen, David; and Pribitkin, Edmund A., "Thyroid lymphosonography: a novel method for evaluating lymphatic drainage." (2009). Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Faculty Papers. Paper 6.