Inguinal lymphadenectomy (the removal of lymph nodes in the groin) is currently part of the treatment options for stage III melanoma patients. Surgery can be performed using one large inguinal incision (open approach) or a few smaller incisions (videoscopic approach). Previous research has already shown less severe complications and comparable oncologic outcomes after the videoscopic approach. Postoperative lymphedema following inguinal lymphadenectomy is a well-known problem which can potentially decrease quality of life. With the arrival of adjuvant systemic treatment options, less invalidating surgery is highly desirable. However, lymphedema and quality of life have only been investigated after the open approach. Therefore, we evaluated lymphedema and quality of life following videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy for stage III melanoma. The videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy is a feasible approach due to the comparable lymphedema incidence and normalization of quality of life during follow-up.
Purpose: We aimed to elucidate morbidity following videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy for stage III melanoma. Methods: Melanoma patients who underwent a videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy between November 2015 and May 2019 were included. The measured outcomes were lymphedema and quality of life. Patients were reviewed one day prior to surgery and postoperatively every 3 months for one year. Results: A total number of 34 patients were included for participation; 19 (55.9%) patients underwent a concomitant iliac lymphadenectomy. Lymphedema incidence was 40% at 3 months and 50% at 12 months after surgery. Mean interlimb volume difference increased steadily from 1.8% at baseline to 6.9% at 12 months (p = 0.041). Median Lymph-ICF-LL total score increased from 0.0 at baseline to 12.0 at 3 months, and declined to 8.5 at 12 months (p = 0.007). Twelve months after surgery, Lymph-ICF-LL scores were higher for females (p = 0.021) and patients that received adjuvant radiotherapy (p = 0.013). The Median Distress Thermometer and EORTC QLQ-C30 summary score recovered to baseline at 12 months postoperatively (p = 0.747 and p = 0.203, respectively). Conclusions: The onset of lymphedema is rapid and continues to increase up to one year after videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy. Quality of life recovers to the baseline value.