Rapid ex vivo examination of Mohs specimens using optical coherence tomography Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) is an effective treatment for certain non-melanoma skin cancers. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a biomedical imaging modality that permits high-resolution imaging of the epidermis and dermis with the potential to detect both healthy tissue and tumour. OCT may also provide a means of detecting and differentiating between the various histological subtypes of basal cell carcinomas (BCC) in vivo. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this prospective ex vivo study was to evaluate the efficacy of OCT in recognising healthy and pathological margins of excised BCC lesions and detecting different BCC subtypes. METHODS: Seventy-three subjects with biopsy-proven BCCs on the facial region undergoing MMS were recruited. Narrow clinically healthy margins of the skin surrounding the tumour were included in the excisional biopsy. Biopsies were scanned with the OCT instrument immediately ex vivo and processed to obtain horizontal Mohs frozen sections and compared with their corresponding OCT images. RESULTS: Histopathological analysis of 280 margins showed 232 tumour free margins and 48 tumour-involved margins. OCT showed very good sensitivity (81.2%) and specificity (94.3%) in detecting healthy from tumour-involved margins. OCT accuracy was 93.4%, and the intra- and inter-observer reliability was substantial (Kappa value ranged between 0.63-0.76). CONCLUSION: This study shows the accuracy of ex vivo OCT in identifying the margin status of BCCs of the head and neck region. Moreover, this modality has demonstrated good capability in distinguishing different BCC subtypes and the potential for in vivo in situ diagnostics.


  • Rashed, D
  • Shah, D
  • Freeman, A
  • Cook, Richard
  • Hopper, C
  • Perrett, CM

publication date

  • September 2017