We wanted to find out whether ultrasound (US) can be used to assess the deep resection margins after excision of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue, as intraoperative feedback on their condition might help to prevent them being too close. Resected specimens of cancers of the tongue from 31 patients with SCC of the tongue were suspended in US gel and scanned with a small 5-10 MHz US probe. The tumour was readily visible and US could differentiate it from muscle tissue. The margin of normal tongue musculature surrounding the tumour was measured on the US images, and the minimal resection margin was noted and compared with that reported by the histopathologist. The mean (SD) deep resection margins measured on the US images differed by 1.1 (0.9) mm from those reported by the histopathologist (Pearson's correlation coefficient: 0.79, p < 0.01). The US measurements took a maximum of five minutes. It is feasible to use US to assess resection specimens of SCC of the tongue as an adjunct to existing strategies (such as frozen section analysis) to help achieve the desired deep surgical margins. The method is easy to incorporate into surgical routine as it does not take long.
- Deep resection margin
- Intraoperative resection margin assessment
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue