J Andrew Chappell, Utah Valley University
In a joint effort with Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, students from Utah Valley University are using high-frequency (HF) ultrasound to test the pathology of surgical margins from breast cancer conservation surgery. The method, developed by Dr. Timothy E. Doyle, provided significant results in a NIH-funded 2010 feasibility study. The results of the study indicated that peak density, the number of peaks and valleys in the HF ultrasonic spectrum, correlates to breast tissue pathology. This technology would allow surgeons to test – in the operating room – whether a surgical margin was clean or if cancer still remained in the margin. This advancement would decrease the amount of return surgical visits a patient must undergo, reduce costs for patients and hospitals, reduce breast cancer recurrence rates, and ultimately increase the survival rate of patients with breast cancer. During the ultrasonic testing, the students work in a team of four in a room outside of the surgical suite. Specimens are brought in by the surgeons’ team and tested immediately following resection. The margins are approximately 3x20x20 mm in size, and are oriented using a small staple inserted by the surgeon in one corner and a stitch on one side. The margin is tested at specific locations depending on the size of the margin and then sent to pathology for analyses. Pathological results and HF ultrasound results will be compared for correlation at the end of the study, which is expected to last about one year. The study will include approximately 80 patients, 360 tissue samples, 1400 tested locations, and 4,300 data points. The goal of the study is to evaluate the accuracy of the method in determining margin pathology. If successful, the method will be moved into clinical trial.