JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association

Toluidine blue: yet another low cost method for screening oral cavity tumour margins in third world countries.

PMID 23901703


To use toluidine blue intra-operatively to identify tumour involved margins after the removal of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma, and to compare the findings with those of final histopathology. The study was conducted at the Aga Khan University Hospital from December 1, 2009, to March 14, 2010, and comprised 56 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven squamous cell carcinoma of oral cavity regardless of grade and stage of tumour. Intra-operatively toluidine blue was used on the resected tumour margins and the staining patterns were assessed. Results were then compared with the final histopathology report. A total of 11(19.64%) margins were positive with toluidine blue staining out of which 8 (14.28%) were false positive. Sensitivity and specificity was found to be 100% and 84.9% respectively with a positive predictive value of 27.2%; a negative predictive value of 100%; and diagnostic accuracy of 85.71%. Toluidine blue costs only Rs25 (USD 0.30) and takes only 5 minutes for application and interpretation. It can be used with significant confidence in smaller lesions (T-l and T-II) as an alternative to frozen sections in developing countries where facilities are unavailable. Its use in larger lesions (T-lll and TIV) remains the topic of controversy and awaits a multi centre trial with a larger cohort.

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