OBJECTIVE: Quantify changes in the circumferential lengths of surgical margins of resected canine mast cell tumors (MCT) and soft tissue sarcomas (STS) between the time of collection and histopathology.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, hypothesis-driven, clinical study.
SAMPLE POPULATION: Two hundred and thirty-seven margins from 69 excised tumors (50 MCT and 19 STS) in 51 client-owned dogs.
METHODS: The lengths of surgical margins were recorded (eg, cranial, caudal, dorsal, and ventral) for each tumor at 5 time points: intraoperatively (in vivo), immediately after excision (ex vivo), after formalin fixation (postfixation), once mounted on glass slides (subgross), and as histologically tumor-free margins (HTFMs).
RESULTS: Compared to in vivo dimensions, the length of surgical margins at each processing step (ie, ex vivo, postfixation, subgross, and HTFM) was reduced by a median of 3.0, 5.0, 6.0, and 8.8 mm for MCT; 2.5, 2.0, 5.0, and 5.0 mm for STS. All processing steps resulted in significant reductions among MCT samples (P < .0001), except between postfixation vs subgross, and for STS samples (P < .0001), except between ex vivo vs postfixation and subgross vs HTFM. The maximum reduction in the total length of margins (from in vivo to HTFM) was 29.6 and 24.2 mm for MCT and STS, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Surgical margin length reductions occur due to a combination of physical factors (eg, tissue elasticity, myofibril contraction, and histologic processing) and biological factors (eg, microscopic tumor infiltration into the grossly normal surgical margin).
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: These data provide information relevant to evidence-based surgical planning and may influence patient morbidity in the most commonly encountered cutaneous malignancies of dogs.