Special Review| Volume 29, ISSUE 10, P1560-1572, October 2022

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Diagnostic accuracy of radiography, digital breast tomosynthesis, micro-CT and ultrasound for margin assessment during breast surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Published:January 04, 2022DOI:

      Rationale and objectives

      Achieving adequate resection margins in breast conserving surgery is challenging and often demands more than one surgical procedure. We evaluated pooled diagnostic sensitivity, and specificity of radiological methods for intraoperative margin assessment and their impact on repeat surgery rate.

      Materials and methods

      We included studies using radiography, digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT), micro-CT, and ultrasound for intraoperative margin assessment with the histological assessment as the reference method. A systematic search was performed in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Web of Science. Two investigators screened the studies for eligibility criteria and extracted data of the included studies independently. The quality assessment on diagnostic accuracy studies (QUADAS)-2 tool was used. A bivariate random effect model was used to obtained pooled sensitivity and specificity of the index tests in the meta-analysis.


      The systematic search resulted in screening of 798 unique records. Twenty-two articles with 29 radiological imaging methods were selected for meta-analysis. Pooled sensitivity and specificity and area under the curve were calculated for each of the 4 subgroups in the meta-analysis respectively: Radiography; 52%, 77%, 60%, DBT; 67%, 76%, 76%, micro-CT; 68%, 69%, 72%, and ultrasound; 72%, 78%, 80%. The repeat surgery rate was poorly reported in the included studies.


      Ultrasound showed the highest and radiography the lowest diagnostic performance for intraoperative margin assessment. However, the heterogeneity between studies was high and the subgroups small. The radiological methods for margin assessment need further improvement to provide reliable guidance in the clinical workflow and to prevent repeat surgeries.

      Key Words

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