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The Impact of Saphenous Vein Sparing During Inguinal Lymphadenectomy on Postoperative Morbidity in Women With Vulval Cancer: An Updated Per-Groin Meta-analysis of Short-term Outcomes
  1. Anastasios Tranoulis, MD, PhD*,
  2. Alexandros Laios, MD, PhD*,
  3. George Theophilou, MBBS, MRCOG, MD*,
  4. Konstantinos Bramis, MD, MSc, PhD and
  5. Sean Kehoe, MBBS, MRCOG, MD
  1. *Department of Gynaecological Oncology, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Leeds, England;
  2. First Propaeudeutic Surgical Clinic, University of Athens Medical School, Hippokration Hospital, Athens, Greece; and
  3. School of Cancer Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alexandros Laios, MD, PhD, Department of Gynaecological Oncology, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Beckett St, Leeds, England LS9 7TF. E-mail:


Objective Inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy (IFL) is included in the standard surgical management of early-stage vulval cancer (VC) but is often accompanied by surgical complications. Efforts have been made to limit the postoperative morbidity by adopting more conservative IFL techniques without compromising the surgical outcomes. Saphenous vein (SV) preservation during IFL for VC appears to reduce the incidence of postoperative complications including lymphedema. To ascertain the efficacy of SV preservation, we aimed to revisit the impact of SV preservation on short-term per groin complications by updating on a previous meta-analysis to further guide current clinical practice.

Methods A systematic literature review was conducted to identify studies that reported postoperative complications following IFL with SV preservation and controls (SV ligation during IFL) in VC patients. We included articles in English language and avoided date restrictions. Direct-comparison meta-analysis was performed between the use of SV preservation and SV ligation for the short-term outcomes of lymphedema, cellulitis, and wound dehiscence/breakdown. Fixed- and random-effects models were fitted to calculate the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results Five studies were included in the final analysis. Direct-comparison per-groin meta-analysis between SV preservation and SV ligation significantly decreased the odds for developing lymphedema (OR, 0.363; 95% CI, 0.228–0.578; P < 0.001), cellulitis (OR, 0.481; 95% CI, 0.28–0.825; P = 0.008), and wound dehiscence/breakdown (OR, 0.296; 95% CI, 0.191–0.458; P < 0.001). When SV sparing was clearly the sole intervention, lymphedema was the only complication in which the positive effect of SV sparing is exerted (OR, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.149–0.526; P < 0.001).

Conclusions This per groin meta-analysis updates on the current evidence suggesting the SV sparing improves postoperative outcomes following IFL in VC patients. Where sentinel biopsy is not indicated, this risk-reducing strategy should be considered in selected VC patients undergoing IFL until a multicenter randomized controlled trial becomes available.

  • Inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy
  • Lymphedema
  • Postoperative complications
  • Saphenous vein preservation
  • Vulval cancer

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  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.