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In esophageal carcinoma, lymph node involvement is a crucial aspect of nodal staging and determining treatment strategies. Although grayscale endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is the standard of care for staging, it is unable to identify lymph node drainage from primary tumors or sentinel lymph nodes (SLN). The goal of this study was to determine if Contrast Enhanced Endoscopic Ultrasound (CE- EUS) is superior to EUS in the identification of SLNs and nodal staging in esophageal carcinoma.


In the unblinded pilot study, patients with newly diagnosed esophageal carcinoma were recruited to undergo CE-EUS and standard EUS. EUS was performed and visible lymph nodes were noted. The contrast agent, Sonazoid was injected peri-tumorally. Fine needle aspiration (FNA) was performed on all lymph nodes considered suspicious by either modality. Specimens were compared, using cytology as a reference.


55 peri-esophageal lymph nodes were collected from 14 enrolled patients, with tumor staging of T2 and T3. 10 nodes identified as suspicious by EUS and 19 nodes identified as suspicious by CE-EUS were sampled by FNA. 4 nodes (40% cytologic yield) identified by EUS and 12 nodes (63% cytologic yield) identified by CE-EUS showed signs of metastatic disease. Nodal staging was upgraded in 4 patients (29%) with the addition of SLNs identified by CE-EUS.


CE-EUS may increase the identification of SLNs and increase cytologic yield that would not have normally been biopsied using EUS. This increase in SLN identification and cytologic yield can provide more accurate lymph node staging in esophageal carcinoma. Further study is indicated.