Although there is consensus that the optimal safe margin is ≥ 5mm, obtaining clear margins (≥5 mm) intraoperatively seems to be the major challenge. We applied a molecular diagnostic method at the lipidomic level to determine the safe surgical resection margin of OSCC by desorption electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry imaging (DESI-MSI).
By overlaying mass spectrometry images with hematoxylin-eosin staining (H&E) from 18 recruited OSCC participants, the mass spectra of all pixels across the diagnosed tumour and continuous mucosal margin regions were extracted to serve as the training and validation datasets. A Lasso regression model was used to evaluate the test performance.
By leave-one-out validation, the Lasso model achieved 88.6% accuracy in distinguishing between tumour and normal regions. To determine the safe surgical resection distance and margin status of OSCC, a set of 14 lipid ions that gradually decreased from tumour to normal tissue was assigned higher weight coefficients in the Lasso model. The safe surgical resection distance of OSCC was measured using the developed 14 lipid ion molecular diagnostic model for clinical reference. The overall accuracy of predicting tumours, positive margins, and negative margins was 92.6%.
The spatial segmentation results based on our diagnostic model not only clearly delineated the tumour and normal tissue, but also distinguished the different status of surgical margins. Meanwhile, the safe surgical resection margin of OSCC on frozen sections can also be accurately measured using the developed diagnostic model.
This study was supported by Nanjing Municipal Key Medical Laboratory Constructional Project Funding (since 2016) and the Centre of Nanjing Clinical Medicine Tumour (since 2014).

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