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When the resected specimen is sent for intraoperative margin assessment, all margins are grossly checked, and selected margins undergo a frozen section (FS) examination. Therefore, there is a possibility of sampling error. This study evaluated the effectiveness of using toluidine blue (TB) as an intraoperative triage screening tool to detect positive mucosal margins of the resected specimens of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and serve as a guide for FS sampling. Surgical samples of 30 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven OSCC were included in the study. A total of 140 mucosal margins were analyzed intraoperatively by TB and FS, the results were compared with the final histopathology. Of the 140 examined mucosal tumor margins, 14 stained positives with TB, six were true-positives, eight were false-positives, and there were no false-negatives, as confirmed by final histopathology of the same margins. The diagnostic performance measures were sensitivity 100.0%; specificity 94.0%; positive predictive value (PPV) 42.9%; negative predictive value (NPV) 100.0%; and accuracy 94.3% (95% CI: 89.0-97.5%). For FS, there were three true-positives, three false-negatives, and no false-positives. The diagnostic performance measures were sensitivity 50.0%; specificity 100.0%; PPV 100.0%; NPV 97.8%; and accuracy 97.9% (95% CI: 93.9-99.6%). TB is less specific but more sensitive than FS for detecting positive mucosal margins of resected OSCC. Screening the tumor mucosal margins with TB before FS sampling may help identify more tumor-bearing margins. This trial was registered at Registration number: NCT03554967 . Registration date: June 13, 2018.


Hana'a Hezam Algadi, Amany Abd-Elhameed Abou-Bakr, Omer Mohammed Jamali, Louloua Mohamed Fathy. Toluidine blue versus frozen section for assessment of mucosal tumor margins in oral squamous cell carcinoma. BMC cancer. 2020 Nov 25;20(1):1147

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PMID: 33238944

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