Most intrinsic infiltrative brainstem lesions diagnosed in children are gliomas, and these carry a very bad prognosis. Although the utility and risk of stereotactically guided biopsy procedures in intrinsic infiltrative brainstem lesions have been widely questioned, the neuroimaging diagnosis may be inaccurate in approximately 25% of cases, and the consequences of empirical therapy should not be underestimated. Stereotactic biopsy sampling is still performed in many centers, but the reported diagnostic yield ranges from 83 to 96%. The authors integrated positron emission tomography (PET) images into the planning for stereotactic biopsy procedures to direct the biopsy needle's trajectory to hypermetabolic foci of intrinsic infiltrative brainstem lesions. Their aim was to assess the benefit of the technique in terms of target selection and diagnostic yield.
Twenty children with newly diagnosed intrinsic infiltrative brainstem lesions underwent a PET-guided stereotactic biopsy procedure. The PET tracer was18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) in six cases, 11C-methionine in eight, and both agents were used in six. A single biopsy target was selected in the area of highest PET tracer uptake in all cases. The PET data were compared with diagnoses and outcome.
Use of PET guidance improved target selection and provided tumor diagnosis in all trajectories and in all children (high-grade glioma was diagnosed in 10, low-grade glioma in five, and nonglial tumor in five). The PET-guided trajectories provided a higher diagnostic yield than those guided by magnetic resonance imaging alone, which allowed the sampling to be reduced to a single trajectory. The PET data might also carry a prognostic value that could be useful for oncological management.
These data support the suggestion that PET guidance improves the diagnostic yield of stereotactic biopsy sampling, allows the practitioner to reduce the number of sampling procedures, and might lead to a reassessment of the utility of and indications for stereotactic biopsy in children with intrinsic infiltrative brainstem lesions.