What is the difference between a regular node biopsy and a sentinel node biopsy?

Little difference. Think of a lymph node as a small filter. All lymph nodes act as filters. However, certain lymph nodes are the very first filters in line- they are called sentinel lymph nodes. The idea is that if the sentinel node is removed and negative, the chances of other lymph nodes further down the line being positive is small. You take out less nodes and have less complications!

Related Questions

What is the difference between a needle directed biopsy and a sentinel node biopsy?

Size. A needle-directed biopsy means a hollow needle is stuck into a tumor or lymph node, and only the amount of tissue that fits inside the needle is removed. A sentinel node biopsy removes several lymph nodes entirely and the entire lymph node is examined under the microscope. A sentinel node biopsy requires an injection ahead of time to see which nodes are first in the chain of lymph nodes. Read more...
Anesthesia. A needle biopsy is performed when we have found an abnormality and want to determine whether it is cancerous or not; it is performed under local anesthesia in a doctor's office or breast center. A sentinel node biopsy is a surgical procedure to determine if a cancer has 'spread' to the lymph nodes; this information is used to stage the cancer, to guide subsequent therapy. Read more...
Diagnos vs staging. A "needle directed biopsy" is likely being used to establish a diagnosis (benign or malignant). A sentinel node biopsy is part of the pathologic staging process once a malignant diagnosis has already been established. Read more...