Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment


Thayer School of Engineering

Additional Department

Geisel School of Medicine



Roughly 23% of breast conserving surgery (BCS) patients undergo a second re-excision procedure due to pathologically positive surgical margins. We investigated the feasibility and potential value of micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) as a surgical margin guidance tool during BCS.


A cohort of 32 BCS specimens was prospectively imaged with a pre-clinical micro-CT system upon arrival in the surgical pathology laboratory. Reconstructed micro-CT scans were evaluated retrospectively by an experienced breast radiologist, who provided binary determinations whether lesions extended to the specimen margin. These readings were then compared to the final pathological diagnosis and to 2D specimen radiography readings.


Of the 32 specimens imaged, 28 had malignant and four had benign pathological diagnoses. Overall five (four malignant, one benign) of the 32 specimens had lesion tissue extending to the margin. For all 32 specimens, micro-CT reconstructions were calculated (< 4 min. acquisition + reconstruction time) and each specimen was volumetrically analyzed by a radiologist. Of the 28 malignant specimen readings, 18 matched the final pathological diagnosis [64%, 95 CI (47%-81%)], with a negative predictive value of 89% [95 CI (74%-96%)]. Micro-CT readings revealed changes in the tumor location and margin status as compared to single-projection radiography readings.


Micro-CT scanning of BCS specimens enabled margin status assessment over the entirety of the surgical surface in a clinically relevant time frame, provided additional spatial information over single-projection radiography, and may be a potentially useful BCS guidance tool.




This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license

Original Citation

McClatchy DM 3rd, Zuurbier RA, Wells WA, Paulsen KD, Pogue BW. Micro-computed tomography enables rapid surgical margin assessment during breast conserving surgery (BCS): correlation of whole BCS micro-CT readings to final histopathology. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 Dec;172(3):587-595. doi: 10.1007/s10549-018-4951-3. Epub 2018 Sep 17. PMID: 30225621; PMCID: PMC6245085.