Awake stereotactic biopsy of brain stem lesions: technique and results.
Shad A., Green A., Bojanic S., Aziz T.
BACKGROUND: Brain stem lesions are a heterogenous pathological group. In adults, pre-operative radiological diagnoses prove to be wrong in 10 to 20% of cases. It is therefore imperative to have a tissue diagnosis for appropriate therapeutic measures. Unless these lesions have a sizeable exophytic component, open biopsy and/or resection is marred by low diagnostic yield and prohibitive mortality/morbidity rates. METHODS: We describe our experience with awake stereotactic biopsy of brain stem lesions. Keeping the patient awake and monitoring clinically during the procedure allows us to make necessary changes in the trajectory of the biopsy probe to minimize the morbidity. A series of 13 brain stem lesions were stereotactically biopsied using CT guidance. Seven had midbrain lesions; four had pontine and two had Ponto-medullary lesions. A frontal, pre-coronal, transcortical trajectory was used in all patients. FINDINGS: Histological diagnosis was established in all but one patient. There was no procedural mortality, and morbidity was minimal and temporary, occurring in three patients. CONCLUSION: Awake stereotactic biopsy is a safe technique when combined with clinical monitoring.