Objective: Lesions within the brain are commonly sampled using stereotactic techniques. The advent of interventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) now allows neurosurgeons to interactively investigate specific regions, with exquisite observational detail. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of this new surgical approach.
Methods: Between January 1997 and June 1998, 35 brain biopsies were performed in a high-field strength interventional MRI unit. All biopsies were performed using MRI-compatible instrumentation. Interactive scanning was used to confirm accurate positioning of the biopsy needle within the region of interest. Intraoperative pathological examination of the biopsy specimens was performed to verify the presence of diagnostic tissue, and intra- and postoperative imaging was performed to exclude the presence of intraoperative hemorrhage. Recently, magnetic resonance spectroscopic targeting was used for six patients.
Results: Diagnostic tissue was obtained in all 35 brain biopsies and was used in therapeutic decision-making. Histological diagnoses included 28 primary brain tumors (12 glioblastomas multiforme, 9 oligodendrogliomas, 2 anaplastic astrocytomas, 2 astrocytomas, 1 lymphoma, and 1 anaplastic oligodendroglioma), 1 melanoma brain metastasis, 1 cavernous sinus meningioma, 1 cerebral infarction, 1 demyelinating process, and 3 cases of radiation necrosis. In all cases, magnetic resonance spectroscopy was accurate in distinguishing recurrent tumors (five cases) from radiation necrosis (one case). No patient sustained clinically or radiologically significant hemorrhage, as determined by intraoperative imaging performed immediately after the biopsy. One patient (3%) suffered transient hemiparesis after a pontine biopsy for investigation of a brain stem glioma. Another patient developed scalp cellulitis, with possible intracranial extension, 3 weeks after the biopsy; this condition was effectively treated with antibiotic therapy. Three patients were discharged on the day of the biopsy.
Conclusion: Interventional 1.5-T MRI is a safe and effective method for evaluating lesions of the brain. Magnetic resonance spectroscopic targeting is likely to augment the diagnostic yield of brain biopsies.