Although it is widely accepted that biopsy sampling is not indicated for the diagnosis and empiric treatment of diffuse pontine glioma, it is common to encounter patients with brainstem lesions that cannot be diagnosed on the basis of imaging studies alone. In cases not amenable to resection, a tissue diagnosis may still be necessary to make appropriate treatment recommendations. The authors retrospectively reviewed their institutional experience with stereotactic biopsy procedures in pediatric patients during a 4-year period.
A three-dimensional graphics workstation was used for trajectory planning to obtain biopsy samples of brainstem lesions in 10 patients. One patient experienced mild diplopia postoperatively. No other morbidity was noted; no patient died as a result of the procedure. The biopsy procedure yielded a pathological diagnosis in all cases. A later resection in one patient resulted in a change in diagnosis. Overall, the pathological findings were varied, and in some cases the tissue diagnosis altered the treatment recommendations.
The findings in this small series suggest that brainstem stereotactic biopsy sampling in children is a safe procedure with a high diagnostic yield. In patients in whom radiographic findings are not consistent with diffuse pontine glioma and resection is not appropriate, stereotactic biopsy sampling should be considered.