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Laryngoscope. 2019 Mar;129(3):662-670. doi: 10.1002/lary.27403. Epub 2018 Aug 27.

Utility of intraoral ultrasound in managing oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma: Systematic review.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, the Department of Otology and Laryngology, the Department of Pathology, and the Department of Radiology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.



Adequate surgical resection of early stage oral tongue cancer provides the best chance at preventing locoregional disease recurrence. Determination of tumor dimensions and margin location is challenging and can lead to inadequate resections with close/positive margins. Ultrasonography has proven its utility in determining the thickness and extent of tongue tumors. Preoperative tumor dimension measurements carry increased significance with the addition of depth of invasion (DOI) to the eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM staging system. We report the results of a systematic review of the literature pertaining to the use of ultrasound in the diagnosis and management of oral tongue carcinoma.


The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis statement checklist was used to inform the design of this systematic review. All studies that utilized ultrasound in the diagnosis/management of primary carcinoma of the oral tongue were included. PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane were reviewed to identify eligible studies.


Nineteen articles were included in our analysis. Six hundred seventy-eight patients were studied in the articles included. Ultrasound tumor thickness measurements correlate well with those on histopathology and show promise as a predictor of cervical lymph node metastasis. Ultrasound can be safely used intraoperatively for deep margin assessment.


Ultrasound is useful in the evaluation of oral tongue malignancies. More experience is needed to determine if it is reliable in determining preoperative DOI in light of the role this tumor parameter plays in the eighth edition of the AJCC staging manual. Laryngoscope, 129:662-670, 2019.


Oral tongue cancer; depth of invasion; squamous cell carcinoma; tumor thickness; ultrasound


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