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August 1998

"Molecular Margins"A Better Measure?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1998;124(8):841-842. doi:10.1001/archotol.124.8.841

Since the introduction of the cold-chamber cryostat, the technique of frozen section analysis has changed little during the past 30 years.1 Frozen section analysis continues as a mainstay component of surgical resection, though it leads to an inherent tissue "tug-of-war" between the desire to preserve function and the intention to achieve adequate oncological clearance. The technique is not without limitations. Retraction of skeletal muscle around a carcinoma adds vagary to the goal of securing a particular margin distance (eg, ≥5 mm). Sampling errors may cause false-negative results. Rarely, overinterpretation of radiation-induced changes or dysplasia extending into salivary ducts may result in false-positive readings. Finally, complete resection may not be possible for some tumors, despite intraoperative tissue sampling. Still, the technique of frozen sections remains a useful tool.

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