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

J Neurosurg. 2005 May;102(5):897-901. doi: 10.3171/jns.2005.102.5.0897.


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 in'dependent 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.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / complications
  • Biopsy / adverse effects*
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Female
  • Hematoma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuronavigation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stereotaxic Techniques / adverse effects*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted*
  • Thalamic Diseases / complications


  • Blood Glucose