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Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2006 Apr;35(4):324-31. Epub 2005 Dec 13.

Observation of tumour thickness and resection margin at surgical excision of primary oral squamous cell carcinoma--assessment by ultrasound.

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  • 1Maxillofacial Unit, Royal London Hospital, Barts and The London NHS Trust, London E1 2BB, UK.


Tumour thickness and the status of resection margins are of prognostic significance in the treatment of oral cancer. In a single blind prospective study, 14 patients with biopsy proven oral squamous cell carcinoma had intraoral ultrasound imaging done preoperatively to measure tumour thickness, and intraoperatively to measure the deep surgical margin half way during resection. The cut surface was demonstrated on ultrasound by placing a metal, ultrasound-reflective, retractor into the surgical cut. The ultrasound measurements were compared to the subsequent histological measurements. Using the threshold of 5mm as indicator of margin clearance, there was agreement in 10 out of 14 cases between ultrasound and histology. Ultrasound detection of close surgical margins had a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 63%. For preoperative tumour thickness measurement, ultrasound imaging showed a high degree of correlation with histology (Pearson correlation coefficient=0.95, P<0.01). This original paper demonstrates that high resolution ultrasound imaging applied intraorally is a reliable tool in objectively assessing both the tumour thickness and the surgical margin clearance at the time of surgery.

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