Can intraoperative molecular imaging localize nonpalpable, visually occult tumors and accurately predict margin adequacy during resection?
In this nonrandomized open-label trial of 40 adults with a T1 pulmonary lesion radiographically suspicious for a nonpalpable cancer, 83% of nonpalpable, nonvisible lesions were identified by intraoperative molecular imaging and intraoperative molecular imaging–calculated margins were nearly identical to those reported on final pathology.
By identifying occult tumors and cancer-positive margins that may have been missed by conventional surgical methods, intraoperative molecular imaging can improve surgical management of nonpalpable tumors across the field of surgical oncology.
Complete (R0) resection is the dominant prognostic factor for survival across solid tumor types. Achieving adequate tumor clearance with appropriate margins is particularly difficult in nonpalpable tumors or in situ disease. Previous methods to address this problem have proven time consumptive, impractical, or ineffective.
To assess the capability of intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI), a novel technology using a fluorescent tracer targeted to malignant cells, to localize visually occult, nonpalpable tumors and quantify margin distances during resection.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This nonrandomized open-label trial of IMI using a folate receptor-targeted fluorescent tracer enrolled patients between May 2017 and June 2020 at a single referral center. Eligible patients included those with a small (T1) lung lesion suspicious for malignant neoplasms and with radiographic features suggestive of a nonpalpable lesion.
Patients were preoperatively infused with a folate receptor-targeted near-infrared tracer. Intraoperatively, surgeons used thoracoscopic visualization and palpation to identify lesions. IMI was performed to detect the lesion in situ, and lesions were imaged ex vivo. Margins were assessed by IMI before comparison with those reported on final histopathologic analysis.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The main outcomes were whether IMI could (1) localize nonpalpable lung lesions in situ and (2) quantify margin distance with comparison with final pathology as the criterion standard. Patient demographic information and lesion characteristics were prospectively recorded.
Of 40 patients, 26 (65%) were female, and the median (interquartile range) age was 66.5 (62-72) years. Conventional surgical methods localized 22 of 40 lesions (55%), while IMI localized 36 of 40 (90%). Of 18 nonpalpable lesions, 15 (83.3%) were identified by IMI. Both palpable and nonpalpable lesions demonstrated mean signal-to-background ratio more than 2. An IMI margin was able to be calculated for 39 of 40 patients (95%). IMI margins were nearly identical to margins reported on final pathology (R2 = 0.9593), with median (interquartile range) difference of 1.3 (0.7-2.0) mm. IMI detected 2 margins in nonpalpable tumors that were clinically unacceptable and would have had a high probability of recurrence.
Conclusions and Relevance
To our knowledge, this study presents the first clinical use of IMI for nonpalpable tumors and provides proof of principle for the utility of IMI across the field of surgical oncology in identifying occult disease and tumor-positive margins.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Kennedy GT, Azari FS, Bernstein E, et al. Targeted Intraoperative Molecular Imaging for Localizing Nonpalpable Tumors and Quantifying Resection Margin Distances. JAMA Surg. Published online August 25, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.3757
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: