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The significance of positive margins in loop electrosurgical cone biopsies.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the interpretability and significance of the endocervical margins of cervical cone biopsy specimens removed by the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP).

METHODS: Loop electrosurgical cervical conization was performed on 57 women with biopsy-confirmed, high-grade dysplasias in whom the extent of the lesion could not be determined by colposcopic visualization. Internal endocervical margins of the resected specimens were marked with ink by the operating physician and evaluated microscopically by the pathologist. Endocervical curettage (ECC) was done in all instances, and all subjects were followed for 1 year after the procedure.

RESULTS: Histologic evaluation of the inked endocervical margins was possible for all 57 resected specimens and was in no instance hindered by thermal artifact. In 19 patients, dysplasia was present in the inked core margin, the ECC, or both. Each patient had re-excisions of the endocervical area; 12 of the 19 (63%) had dysplasia in the specimen. Of 12 cases in which dysplasia was present in both the endocervical margin and the ECC, nine had residual dysplasia. Two of four patients with positive margins but a negative ECC had residual dysplasia, but only one of three patients with a negative endocervical margin and a positive ECC showed residual dysplasia. In the 38 patients with negative inked margins and a negative ECC, there was only one instance of dysplasia demonstrated during the 1-year follow-up period.

CONCLUSION: Endocervical margins of cone biopsies removed by LEEP can be accurately assessed pathologically and can help predict the presence of persistent dysplasia.

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