Object. The goals of this study were to analyze the accuracy of cytological techniques, consisting of touch and smear preparations, for the intraoperative diagnosis of stereotactically obtained brain biopsy samples, and to determine the prevalence of the use of these methods among neuropathologists.
Methods. A survey regarding preferred methods for intraoperative diagnosis of stereotactically obtained brain biopsy samples was completed by 92 (62%) of 148 neuropathologists. Twenty-three percent of respondents chose frozen-section examination alone; 13% chose one or more cytological methods alone; and the remainder (64%) chose a combination of frozen-section examination and cytology.
At the University of Pittsburgh, the neuropathology records for all stereotactic brain biopsies performed from May 1979 through May 1998 were retrospectively reviewed. Of the 946 stereotactic brain biopsies, 316 cases were excluded because the intraoperative neuropathological consultation was not recorded. Thirty-five cases were excluded because frozen-section examinations were performed. Therefore, a total of 595 cases were suitable for analysis.
Intraoperative cytological investigation correlated with the final diagnosis in 90% of cases (52% complete correlation and 38% partial correlation). In 11% of cases there was no correlation between the intraoperative and final diagnoses. Intraoperative diagnoses were most accurate in cases of abscess, germinoma, lymphoma, metastasis, and malignant glioma.
Overall, 91% of biopsy specimens were diagnostic when examined using the paraffin-embedded section technique. The sensitivity of cytological preparations in detecting a diagnostic specimen was 96% and the specificity in detecting a nondiagnostic specimen was 75%.
Conclusions. Intraoperative cytological preparations correlated with the final diagnoses in 90% of stereotactic biopsies and had a 96% sensitivity in detecting diagnostic specimens. The highest rate of correlation was noted in cases of abscess, germinoma, lymphoma, metastasis, and malignant glial tumor.