Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine (LOMIN), National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.
In view of the importance of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) in tumor staging and patient management, sensitive and accurate imaging of SLNs has been intensively explored. Along with the advance of the imaging technology, various contrast agents have been developed for lymphatic imaging. In this review, the lymph node imaging agents were summarized into three groups: tumor targeting agents, lymphatic targeting agents and lymphatic mapping agents. Tumor targeting agents are used to detect metastatic tumor tissue within LNs, lymphatic targeting agents aim to visualize lymphatic vessels and lymphangionesis, while lymphatic mapping agents are mainly for SLN detection during surgery after local administration. Coupled with various signal emitters, these imaging agents work with single or multiple imaging modalities to provide a valuable way to evaluate the location and metastatic status of SLNs.
Keywords: Sentinel lymph node, contrast agent, PET, MRI, fluorescence, imaging.