Intraoperative [18F]FDG flexible autoradiography for tumour margin assessment in breast-conserving surgery: a first-in-human multicentre feasibility study

Patriek A.G.T. Jurrius*, Maarten R. Grootendorst, Marika Krotewicz, Massimiliano Cariati, Ashutosh Kothari, Neill Patani, Paulina Karcz, Monika Nagadowska, Kunal N. Vyas, Arnie Purushotham, Maria Turska-d’Amico

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: In women undergoing breast-conserving surgery (BCS), 20–25% require a re-operation as a result of incomplete tumour resection. An intra-operative technique to assess tumour margins accurately would be a major advantage. A novel method for intraoperative margin assessment was developed by applying a thin flexible scintillating film to specimens—flexible autoradiography (FAR) imaging. A single-arm, multi-centre study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of intraoperative [18F]FDG FAR for the assessment of tumour margins in BCS. Methods: Eighty-eight patients with invasive breast cancer undergoing BCS received ≤ 300 MBq of [18F]FDG 60–180 min pre-operatively. Following surgical excision, intraoperative FAR imaging was performed using the LightPath® Imaging System. The first 16 patients were familiarisation patients; the remaining 72 patients were entered into the main study. FAR images were analysed post-operatively by three independent readers. Areas of increased signal intensity were marked, mean normalised radiances and tumour-to-tissue background (TBR) determined, agreement between histopathological margin status and FAR assessed and radiation dose to operating theatre staff measured. Subgroup analyses were performed for various covariates, with thresholds set based on ROC curves. Results: Data analysis was performed on 66 patients. Intraoperative margin assessment using FAR was completed on 385 margins with 46.2% sensitivity, 81.7% specificity, 8.1% PPV, 97.7% NPV and an overall accuracy of 80.5%, detecting both invasive carcinoma and DCIS. A subgroup analysis based on [18F]FDG activity present at time of imaging revealed an increased sensitivity (71.4%), PPV (9.3%) and NPV (98.4%) in the high-activity cohort with mean tumour radiance and TBR of 126.7 ± 45.7 photons/s/cm2/sr/MBq and 2.1 ± 0.5, respectively. Staff radiation exposure was low (38.2 ± 38.1 µSv). Conclusion: [18F]FDG FAR is a feasible and safe technique for intraoperative tumour margin assessment. Further improvements in diagnostic performance require optimising the method for scintillator positioning and/or the use of targeted radiopharmaceuticals. Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02666079. Date of registration: 28 January 2016. URL: ISRCTN registry: Reference: ISRCTN17778965. Date of registration: 11 February 2016. URL:

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
JournalEJNMMI Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast-conserving surgery
  • Flexible autoradiography
  • Margin assessment
  • Re-operation rate


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