MRI evaluation of vulvar squamous-cell carcinoma in fresh radical local excision specimens for cancer localization and prediction of surgical tumor-free margins

NMR Biomed. 2019 Jan;32(1):e4025. doi: 10.1002/nbm.4025. Epub 2018 Nov 15.


In the surgical treatment of vulvar squamous-cell carcinoma (VSCC), tumor-free margins of 8 mm or more are considered adequate. However, limited perioperative information on the tumor-free margins other than the surgeon's own estimation is available. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the feasibility of ex vivo MRI in localizing VSCC and to assess the surgical tumor-free margins in fresh radical local excision (RLE) specimens to guide the surgeon during resections. Nine patients with biopsy-proven VSCC scheduled for RLE were prospectively included. Intact fresh specimens were scanned using a 7 T preclinical MR-scanner. Whole mount H&E-stained slides were obtained every 3 mm and correlated with ex vivo MRI. A pathologist annotated VSCC and minimal tumor-free margins (3 o'clock, 9 o'clock, basal) on the digitalized histological slides. An observer with knowledge of histology (the non-blinded annotation) and a radiologist blinded to histology (the blinded annotation) separately performed annotation of the same features on ex vivo MRI. Linear correlation and agreement of the ex vivo MRI measurements with histology were assessed. Diagnostic performance for VSCC localization and identification of margins less than 8 mm was expressed as positive and negative predictive values (PPV, NPV). In 153 matched ex vivo MRI slices, the observer correctly identified 79/91 margins as less than 8 mm (PPV 87%) and 110/124 margins as 8 mm or greater (NPV 89%). The radiologist correctly annotated absence of VSCC in 73/81 (NPV 90%) and presence in 65/72 (PPV 90%) slices. Sixty-four of 90 margins were correctly identified as less than 8 mm (PPV 71%) and 83/102 margins as 8 mm or greater (NPV 81%). Both non-blinded and blinded annotations were linearly correlated and demonstrated good agreement with histology. Accurate localization of VSCC and measurements of the surgical tumor-free margins in fresh RLE specimens using ex vivo MRI seems feasible. High diagnostic performance in VSCC localization and identification of margins less than 8 mm suggest ex vivo MRI to be clinically applicable.

Keywords: MRI; margins of excision; vulvar neoplasms; whole mount histology.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Margins of Excision*
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / pathology*