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Katrina S. Firlik, A. Julio Martinez, and L. Dade Lunsford

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.

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Christopher H. Comey, Mark R. McLaughlin, Hae Dong Jho, A. Julio Martinez, and L. Dade Lunsford

✓ Malignant vestibular nerve tumors are rare: to date, only three cases have been reported in the literature. The authors report a case of an eighth cranial nerve tumor that progressed 5 years after stereotactic radiosurgery. The patient was a 44-year-old man who underwent stereotactic radiosurgery for a 27-mm cerebellopontine angle tumor that was discovered on investigation of tinnitus and hearing loss. He developed facial weakness after 5 years, and repeated imaging revealed tumor enlargement. Despite complete microsurgical excision, the tumor rapidly recurred locally and subsequently disseminated within the neuraxis. The patient died 1 year after tumor progression was detected.

Histopathological analysis revealed a malignant spindle cell neoplasm with frequent mitotic figures. The presence of positive rhabdoid elements on immunohistochemical studies confirmed that it was a triton tumor. The authors review the relevant literature concerning the classification and management of malignant vestibular nerve tumors and discuss the implications of tumor progression after stereotactic radiosurgery.

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Douglas Kondziolka, L. Dade Lunsford, and A. Julio Martinez

✓ Many physicians rely upon neuroimaging studies alone to select therapy for adult patients suspected of having a glial neoplasm, in the belief that certain imaging features accurately characterize the histological diagnosis of low-grade astrocytoma. During a 4-year interval when both computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging was available, the authors performed stereotactic biopsies on 20 consecutive adult patients who were suspected of having an astrocytoma. The patients were generally young (mean age 37 years), had seizures (17 cases), and had lobar lesions. An accurate histological diagnosis was obtained, without morbidity, in all 20 patients. Only 10 (50%) in fact had low-grade astrocytomas, whereas nine (45%) had anaplastic astrocytomas and one (5%) had encephalitis. The results of this study indicate that modern high-resolution neuroimaging alone cannot be used as a reliable tool to predict the histological diagnosis of astrocytoma (50% false-positive rate). All patients with supratentorial mass lesions that exhibit the “typical” imaging features of astrocytoma should undergo stereotactic biopsy for confirmation in order that appropriate management may be planned.

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Mark E. Linskey, A. Julio Martinez, Douglas Kondziolka, John C. Flickinger, Ann H. Maitz, Theresa Whiteside, and L. Dade Lunsford

✓ An experimental model with xenograft transplantation into the subrenal capsule of athymic (nude) mice was used to evaluate the early response of human acoustic schwannomas to stereotactic radiosurgery. After xenograft placement, 45 mice underwent radiosurgery with single doses of 10, 20, or 40 Gy using a 201-source 60Co gamma unit (4-mm collimator, single isocenter, 80% isodose line). The 45 radiosurgery-treated xenografts were compared with 15 untreated xenografts and 15 xenografts in mice that underwent “sham radiosurgery.” All five study groups were matched for the following pretreatment variables: patient of origin, animal weight, average xenograft diameter, and percentage of xenograft surface vascularity. Immediately prior to sacrifice of the mice all xenografts were evaluated in situ to determine the average tumor diameter, tumor volume, and percentage of surface vascularity. Mice were sacrificed 2 weeks, 1 month, or 3 months after radiosurgery. Blinded histological review was performed by an independent neuropathologist.

Tumor volume was reduced 33.6% after 2 weeks (p = 0.023) and 45% after 3 months (p = 0.018) in the 40-Gy radiosurgery group. Tumor volume was reduced by 46.2% after 1 month (p = 0.0002) and 35.2% after 3 months (p = 0.032) in the 20-Gy radiosurgery group. An average volume reduction of 16.4% was observed after 3 months (p = 0.17) in the 10-Gy radiosurgery group. At 3 months after surgery, tumor surface vascularity was reduced by an average of 19.7% (p = 0.043) in the 40-Gy radiosurgery group and 5.8% (p = 0.12) in the 20-Gy radiosurgery group and was unchanged in the 10-Gy radiosurgery group and both control groups. Histological examination demonstrated a higher incidence of hemosiderin deposits (p = 0.026) and vascular mural hyalinization (p = 0.032) in radiosurgery xenografts versus control.

The subrenal capsule xenograft in nude mice was an excellent model for studying the in vivo radiobiology of acoustic schwannomas after radiosurgery. Both cellular and vascular effects could be assessed serially in situ and the model was stable even 4 months after transplantation. Additional studies investigating radiobiology over periods better approximating the time course of clinical neuroimaging changes (6 to 12 months) are warranted.

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L. Dade Lunsford, A. Julio Martinez, and Richard E. Latchaw

✓ Modern stereotaxic surgery is dependent upon compatible advanced imaging tools, including computerized tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The authors describe three cases in which the patients underwent stereotaxic surgery for mass lesions identified by both MR imaging and CT scans. Identical target coordinates were defined by both techniques, and accuracy was confirmed by intraoperative CT. In comparison to stereotaxic CT, MR provided superior contrast resolution, allowed direct multiplanar imaging and target determination, and permitted accurate correlation of the image with histological features. The operative set-up and technique are described. Stereotaxic surgery with MR imaging may permit more accurate histopathological definition of tumor margins and ultimately lead to better dosimetry for therapeutic procedures such as interstitial brachytherapy.