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Ann Surg Oncol. 2009 Feb;16(2):285-8. doi: 10.1245/s10434-008-0245-z. Epub 2008 Dec 3.

Breast specimen orientation.

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Department of Surgery, University of Miami, FL, USA.


Lumpectomy specimens are commonly divided into six sides: superficial, deep, superior, inferior, medial, and lateral. Orienting stitches are placed on the specimen during surgery to allow reorientation by pathology. Despite those efforts, specimen disorientation may occur. The aim of this study was to assess the correlation in orientation between surgeons and pathologists. Lumpectomy specimens were routinely oriented. An additional Prolene suture was randomly placed by the surgeon on one side to be localized by pathology. The results were recorded and the disorientation rate calculated. Specimen size and presence of skin and/or muscle were also recorded. There were 122 lumpectomy specimens prospectively entered. Average specimen volume was 95.5 cm(3). Twenty-four specimens had segments of skin or muscle. The additional sutures were evenly divided between the six sides. The overall disorientation rate was 31.1% (95% confidence interval, 23.1-40.2).The side-specific disorientation rates were 43%, 40%, 35%, 29%, 28%, and 14% for the deep, superficial, lateral, medial, superior, and inferior surfaces, respectively (no statistical difference). Presence of skin or muscle on the specimen did not contribute to better orientation. Specimen volumes, however, were highly associated with orientation. Specimens of <20 cm(3) had a disorientation rate of 78%, while larger specimen had a disorientation rate of 20% (p < .001). Specimen orientation with stitches placed on two surfaces is associated with a high disorientation rate. Better orientation techniques are necessary to minimize the specimen disorientation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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