Independent predictors of morbidity after image-guided stereotactic brain biopsy: A risk assessment of 270 cases

Matthew J. McGirt, Graeme F. Woodworth, Alex L. Coon, James M. Frazier, Eric Amundson, Ira Garonzik, Alessandro Olivi, Jon D. Weingart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


Object. Image-guided stereotactic brain biopsy is associated with transient and permanent incidences of morbidity in 9 and 4.5% of patients, respectively. The goal of this study was to perform a critical analysis of risk factors predictive of an enhanced operative risk in frame-based and frameless stereotactic brain biopsy. Methods. The authors reviewed the clinical and neuroimaging records of 270 patients who underwent consecutive frame-based and frameless image-guided stereotactic brain biopsies. The association between preoperative variables and biopsy-related morbidity was assessed by performing a multivariate logistic regression analysis. Transient and permanent stereotactic biopsy-related morbidity was observed in 23 (9%) and 13 (5%) patients, respectively. A hematoma occurred at the biopsy site in 25 patients (9%); 10 patients (4%) were symptomatic. Diabetes mellitus (odds ratio [OR] 3.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.37-10.17, p = 0.01), thalamic lesions (OR 4.06, 95% CI 1.63-10.11, p = 0.002), and basal ganglia lesions (OR 3.29, 95% CI 1.05-10.25, p = 0.04) were independent risk factors for morbidity. In diabetic patients, a serum level of glucose that was greater than 200 mg/dl on the day of biopsy had a 100% positive predictive value and a glucose level lower than 200 mg/dl on the same day had a 95% negative predictive value for biopsy-related morbidity. Pontine biopsy was not a risk factor for morbidity. Only two (4%) of 45 patients who had epilepsy before the biopsy experienced seizures postoperatively. The creation of more than one needle trajectory increased the incidence of neurological deficits from 17 to 44% when associated with the treatment of deep lesions (those in the basal ganglia or thalamus; p = 0.05), but was not associated with morbidity when associated with the treatment of cortex lesions. Conclusions. Basal ganglia lesions, thalamic lesions, and patients with diabetes were independent risk factors for biopsy-associated morbidity. Hyperglycemia on the day of biopsy predicted morbidity in the diabetic population. Epilepsy did not predispose to biopsy-associated seizure. For deep-seated lesions, increasing the number of biopsy samples along an established track rather than performing a second trajectory may minimize the incidence of morbidity. Close perioperative observation of glucose levels may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-901
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005


  • Craniotomy
  • Glioma grade
  • Pathology
  • Stereotactic biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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