Digital Breast Tomosynthesis for Intraoperative Margin Assessment during Breast-Conserving Surgery

  • Ko Un Park
  • Henry M. Kuerer
  • Gaiane M. Rauch
  • Jessica W. T. Leung
  • Aysegul A. Sahin
  • Wei Wei
  • Yisheng Li
  • Dalliah M. BlackEmail author
Breast Oncology



Intraoperative margin assessment for breast cancer patients undergoing segmental mastectomy (SM) enables identification of positive margins, with immediate excision of additional tissue to obtain negative margins.


The aim of this study was to determine the ability of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) to detect positive margins compared with an institution’s standard extensive processing (SEP).


SM specimens underwent intraoperative SEP with two-dimensional (2D) imaging of the intact and sliced specimen, with review by a breast radiologist and gross assessment by a breast pathologist. Findings guided the surgeon to excise additional tissue. DBT images of intact specimens were prospectively obtained and retrospectively reviewed by a breast radiologist. A positive margin was defined as tumor at ink.


Ninety-eight patients underwent 99 SMs. With SEP, 14 (14%) SM specimens had 19 positive margins. SEP did not detect 3 of the 19 positive margins, for a sensitivity of 84%, specificity of 78%, positive predictive value (PPV) of 11%, and negative predictive value (NPV) of 99%. Moreover, DBT did not detect 5 of the 19 positive margins, for a sensitivity of 74% (p > 0.05), specificity of 91% (p < 0.05), PPV of 21.5%, and NPV of 99%. With SEP guidance to excise additional tissue, six cases had final positive margins, with SEP not identifying three of these cases and DBT not identifying two. Pathology from the second surgery of these patients showed either no additional malignancy or only focal ductal carcinoma in situ.


DBT is an accurate method for detecting positive margins in breast cancer patients undergoing SM, performing similar to institutional labor-intensive, intraoperative standard processing.



The authors would like to thank Arnold Dahay, Davis Parambil, and Koreene Rockwood, histopathology technicians, for their contribution in processing the specimens for this study.


Wei Wei’s work was generously supported by The Cancer Centre Support Grant from National Institute for Health/National Cancer Institute grant P30CA016672. Ko Un Park, Henry M. Kuerer, Gaiane M. Rauch, Jessica W. T. Leung, Aysegul A. Sahin, Yisheng Li, and Dalliah M. Black have no relevant financial disclosures to declare.

Supplementary material

10434_2019_7226_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (1.8 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 1867 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ko Un Park
    • 1
    • 6
  • Henry M. Kuerer
    • 1
  • Gaiane M. Rauch
    • 2
  • Jessica W. T. Leung
    • 2
  • Aysegul A. Sahin
    • 3
  • Wei Wei
    • 4
    • 5
  • Yisheng Li
    • 4
  • Dalliah M. Black
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Breast Surgical OncologyUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiostatisticsUniversity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Taussig Cancer Institute, The Cleveland ClinicClevelandUSA
  6. 6.Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical OncologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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