Object. Many neurosurgeons routinely obtain computerized tomography (CT) scans to rule out hemorrhage in patients after stereotactic procedures. In the present prospective study, the authors investigated the rate of silent hemorrhage and delayed deterioration after stereotactic biopsy sampling and the role of postbiopsy CT scanning.
Methods. A subset of patients (the last 102 of approximately 800 patients) who underwent stereotactic brain biopsies at the Toronto Hospital prospectively underwent routine postoperative CT scanning within hours of the biopsy procedure. Their medical charts and CT scans were then reviewed.
A postoperative CT scan was obtained in 102 patients (aged 17–87 years) who underwent stereotactic biopsy between June 1994 and September 1996. Sixty-one patients (59.8%) exhibited hemorrhages, mostly intracerebral (54.9%), on the immediate postoperative scan. Only six of these patients were clinically suspected to have suffered a hemorrhage based on immediate postoperative neurological deficit; in the remaining 55 (53.9%) of 102 patients, the hemorrhage was clinically silent and unsuspected. Among the clinically silent intracerebral hemorrhages, 22 measured less than 5 mm, 20 between 5 and 10 mm, five between 10 and 30 mm, and four between 30 and 40 mm. Of the 55 patients with clinically silent hemorrhages, only three demonstrated a delayed neurological deficit (one case of seizure and two cases of progressive loss of consciousness) and these all occurred within the first 2 postoperative days. Of the neurologically well patients in whom no hemorrhage was demonstrated on initial postoperative CT scan, none experienced delayed deterioration.
Conclusions. Clinically silent hemorrhage after stereotactic biopsy is very common. However, the authors did not find that knowledge of its existence ultimately affected individual patient management or outcome. The authors, therefore, suggest that the most important role of postoperative CT scanning is to screen for those neurologically well patients with no hemorrhage. These patients could safely be discharged on the same day they underwent biopsy.