Breast nonmalignant
Cautery artifact in breast

Topic Completed: 1 April 2010

Minor changes: 9 August 2019

Copyright: 2002-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Cautery artifact

Hind Warzecha, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 328
Page views in 2020 to date: 181
Cite this page: Warzecha H. Cautery artifact in breast. website. Accessed May 31st, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Electrocautery instruments reduce bleeding and the risk of hematoma
  • Radiofrequency ablation may be used for local destruction of tumor cells (Int J Clin Pract 2008;62:816)
  • Thermal distortion may make it difficult to (a) distinguish hyperplasia from DCIS, (b) assess histologic grade, (c) assess margin status or (d) interpret immunostaining, particularly for hormone receptors (Ann Surg 1986;204:612)
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Parallel linear cracks, blurred cell outlines and hyperchromatic nuclei
  • Specimen may be difficult to interpret
Microscopic (histologic) images

AFIP images

AFIP fig 590: parallel linear cracks typify cautery artifact

Blurred cell outlines,
nuclei and parallel
linear cracks

Images hosted on other servers:

Other: epithelial distortion (fig 9A, 9B)

Extreme cautery artifact in breast tissue; specimen uninterpretable

Artifact may make specimen uninterpretable

Extends > 1 mm
causing distortion
of lobules; invasive
carcinoma or adenosis

Positive stains
Differential diagnosis
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