As critical-feature patterning processes increase in complexity and sensitivity, conventional critical dimension (CD) measurements may not afford the level of process control required for effective device production. By comparing recorded top-down scanning-electron-microscope (SEM) images to a predefined reference image, Pattern Quality Confirmation (pQC) enables a more detailed analysis of measurements captured by KLA-Tencor 8XXX series scanning-electron microscopes. An example of the utility of this additional information is discussed below for a metal interconnect level patterned with a conventional deep-ultraviolet (DUV) photolithography process. In particular, we demonstrate that for certain ranges of focus-exposure conditions, conventional post-develop CD measurements remain well within specification, however, when etched, the resulting metal-line CDs are significantly below the lower specification limit. The pQC image analysis results, however, predict the observed post-etch CD variations, and consequently offer sensitivity to yield-limiting focus drifts and excursions, enabling effective product-dispositioning (rework) decisions.