Safety and efficacy of brainstem biopsy in children and young adults

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  • 1 Division of Neurosurgery, Connecticut Children’s, Hartford;
  • 2 Department of Surgery, UConn School of Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut;
  • 3 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee;
  • 4 Department of Neurosurgery, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Departments of
  • 5 Radiation Oncology,
  • 6 Pathology, and
  • 7 Diagnostic Imaging, and
  • 8 Division of Neuro-oncology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis;
  • 9 Department of Radiology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis;
  • 10 Division of Neuroradiology, Le Bonheur Neuroscience Institute, Memphis;
  • 11 Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, Memphis; and
  • 12 Semmes Murphey, Memphis, Tennessee
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OBJECTIVE

Biopsies of brainstem lesions are performed to establish a diagnosis in the setting of an atypical clinical or radiological presentation, or to facilitate molecular studies. A better understanding of the safety and diagnostic yield of brainstem biopsies would help guide appropriate patient selection.

METHODS

All patients who underwent biopsy of a brainstem lesion during the period from January 2011 to June 2019 were reviewed. Demographic, radiological, surgical, and outcome data were collected.

RESULTS

A total of 58 patients underwent 65 brainstem biopsies during the study period. Overall, the median age was 7.6 years (IQR 3.9–14.2 years). Twenty-two of the 65 biopsies (34%) were open, 42 (65%) were stereotactic, and 1 was endoscopic. In 3 cases (5%), a ventriculoperitoneal shunt was placed, and in 9 cases (14%), a posterior fossa decompression was performed during the same operative session as the biopsy. An intraoperative MRI (iMRI) was performed in 28 cases (43%). In 3 of these cases (11%), the biopsy was off target and additional samples were obtained during the same procedure. New neurological deficits were noted in 5 cases (8%), including sensory deficits, ophthalmoparesis/nystagmus, facial weakness, and hearing loss; these deficits persisted in 2 cases and were transient in 3 cases. A pseudomeningocele occurred in 1 patient; no patients developed a CSF leak or infection. In 8 cases (13%) an additional procedure was needed to obtain a diagnosis.

CONCLUSIONS

Brainstem biopsies are safe and effective. Target selection and approach should be a collaborative effort. iMRI can be used to assess biopsy accuracy in real time, thereby allowing any adjustment if necessary.

ABBREVIATIONS ADC = apparent diffusion coefficient; ATRT = atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor; DIPG = diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma; DSC = dynamic susceptibility contrast; DWI = diffusion-weighted imaging; ETMR = embryonal tumor with multilayered rosettes; iMRI = intraoperative MRI; MRS = magnetic resonance spectroscopy; NAA = N-acetylaspartate.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence David S. Hersh: Connecticut Children’s, Hartford, CT. dhersh@connecticutchildrens.org.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online July 31, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.4.PEDS2092.

Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

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