Assessment of the deep resection margin during oral cancer surgery: A systematic review

S.G. Brouwer de Koning*, A.W.M.A. Schaeffers, W. Schats, M.W.M. van den Brekel, T.J.M. Ruers, M.B. Karakullukcu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
146 Downloads (Pure)


The main challenge for radical resection in oral cancer surgery is to obtain adequate resection margins. Especially the deep margin, which can only be estimated based on palpation during surgery, is often reported inadequate. To increase the percentage of radical resections, there is a need for a quick, easy, minimal invasive method, which assesses the deep resection margin without interrupting or prolonging surgery. This systematic review provides an overview of technologies that are currently being studied with the aim of fulfilling this demand. A literature search was conducted through the databases Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library. A total of 62 studies were included. The results were categorized according to the type of technique: ‘Frozen Section Analysis’, ‘Fluorescence’, ‘Optical Imaging’, ‘Conventional imaging techniques’, and ‘Cytological assessment’. This systematic review gives for each technique an overview of the reported performance (accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, or a different outcome measure), acquisition time, and sampling depth. At the moment, the most prevailing technique remains frozen section analysis. In the search for other assessment methods to evaluate the deep resection margin, some technologies are very promising for future use when effectiveness has been shown in larger trials, e.g., fluorescence (real-time, sampling depth up to 6 mm) or optical techniques such as hyperspectral imaging (real-time, sampling depth few mm) for microscopic margin assessment and ultrasound (less than 10 min, sampling depth several cm) for assessment on a macroscopic scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2220-2232
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean journal of surgical oncology
Issue number9
Early online date17 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Deep resection margin
  • Intra-operative margin assessment
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma


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