BACKGROUND. The surgical management of malignant melanoma necessitates correct sentinel lymph node localization. The highest reported sensitivities are those of lymphoscintigraphy and intraoperative γ-probe detection combined with a vital blue dye technique. OBJECTIVE. Control of the radiation doses experienced by surgical personnel untrained in the use of unsealed radioactive materials. METHODS. Sentinel lymph nodes were localized, and biopsies were performed in 25 patients with malignant melanoma. Radiation doses during surgery were determined with energy-compensated silicon pin diode detectors and LiF thermoluminescent ring dosimeters. RESULTS. In 21 cases (24%), the measured doses were less than 1 μSv, but in 4 operations (16%), 1 to 4.5 μSv was received. The equivalent dose rate was generally less than 1 μSv/h. The finger-absorbed doses for the surgeon and the assistant surgeon were (mean±SD) 159±23 and 48±17 μGy per intervention, respectively. CONCLUSION. Personal dosimetric survey and limitation of the number of surgical interventions do not appear to be essential.
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