A prospective study of the safety and efficacy of frameless, pinless electromagnetic image-guided biopsy of cerebral lesions

Neurosurgery. 2012 Mar;70(1 Suppl Operative):29-33; discussion 33. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31822d75af.


Background: In recent years, frameless navigation techniques have been reported to be safe and effective for biopsy of cerebral lesions.

Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of a technique of frameless, pinless electromagnetic-guided biopsy for brain lesions with the Medtronic Stealth AxiEM.

Methods: Prospective data were collected on consecutive brain biopsies performed by a single surgeon (P.L.G.) with this technology between October 2007 and May 2010. One trajectory was made per lesion with multiple specimens taken for analysis. Outcome measures included measures of accuracy, histological yield, and complication rate.

Results: A total of 150 biopsies were performed in 149 patients (84 male and 65 female patients; age range, 19.8-83.8 years). The consultant performed 49 procedures, supervising a trainee in the others. In only 1 case (0.7%) was there nondiagnosis consequent of a registration error and inaccurate trajectory. In 4 other cases (2.7%), no specific diagnosis was established, but abnormal tissue was identified histologically, and postoperative imaging confirmed accurate targeting of these lesions. There were no instances of intracranial hemorrhage or significant morbidity and no deaths directly attributable to the procedure. Four patients (2.7%) died within 30 days of the procedure but not of complications of surgery. One patient suffered a transitory neurological deficit.

Conclusion: Electromagnetic navigation is proven to be a simple, safe, and effective innovation for frameless and pinless biopsy of cerebral lesions. This technique is time efficient, and elimination of frame placement enhances patient comfort and facilitates the use of local anesthetic technique.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuronavigation / adverse effects
  • Neuronavigation / methods*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult