The sentinel margin: Intraoperative ex vivo specimen mapping using relative fluorescence intensity

Stan Van Keulen, Naoki Nishio, Andrew Birkeland, Shayan Fakurnejad, Brock Martin, Tim Forouzanfar, Kristen Cunanan, A. DImitrios Colevas, Nynke S. Van Den Berg, Eben Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite major advancements in surgical oncology, the positive margin rate for primary head and neck cancer resection remains around 15%-30%. In particular, the deep surface margin is the most challenging to adequately assess. Inadequate margins are directly correlated to poor survival, and as such, mitigation of these rates is critical to improve patient outcomes. We have developed an ex vivo imaging strategy that utilizes fluorescence intensity peaks (relative to background signal) of an injected anti-EGFR antibody conjugated to a fluorescent probe to locate potential close or positive margins on the deep surface of the resected tumor specimen. Experimental Design: Twelve patients with head and neck cancer scheduled for surgery received systemic administration of a tumor-specific contrast-agent (panitumumab- IRDye800CW). After surgical resection, the tumor specimen was imaged using a fluorescence imager. The three highest fluorescence intensity-peaks on the deep surface of the specimen were isolated and correlated to histology to determine the margin distance at these regions. Results: Relative fluorescence peak intensities identified the closest margin on the deep surface of the specimen within 2.5 minutes. The highest intensity peak consistently (100%) detected the closest margin to the tumor. The difference in tumor margin distance between the first and second highest fluorescence intensity peak averaged 2.1 ± 1.4 mm. The tumor-margin difference between the second and third highest peak averaged 1.6 ± 0.6 mm. Conclusions: Fluorescence intensity peaks can identify the region on the specimen where tumor is closest to specimen's edge on the deep surface. This technique could have broad applications in obtaining adequate margins in oncological surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4656-4662
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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