Needle core vs open biopsy for diagnosis of intermediate- and high-risk neuroblastoma in children

J Pediatr Surg. 2012 Jun;47(6):1261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2012.03.040.


Background: Open biopsy has been the mainstay for definitive diagnosis of neuroblastoma in pediatric patients. However, needle core biopsy may represent a faster, less invasive, and safer alternative to open biopsy in children. The purpose of this study was to compare safety and efficacy between needle core and open biopsy in the diagnosis of patients with intermediate- and high-risk neuroblastoma at our institution.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children with intermediate- and high-risk neuroblastoma who underwent open or needle core biopsies from 2002 to 2010. Data collected included patient demographics, tumor size, sample adequacy for diagnosis and risk stratification (histology and cytogenetics), length of hospital stay, time to initiate chemotherapy after biopsy, need for repeat biopsy, and both intraoperative and postoperative complications. Mann-Whitney U and Fisher's exact tests were used for statistical analysis.

Results: During the study period, 7 patients underwent needle core primary biopsies (5 intermediate-risk primary tumors and 2 high-risk primary tumors), and 4 patients underwent needle core biopsy for metastatic tumors, whereas 21 patients had open biopsies (10, intermediate risk; 11, high risk). Median age at biopsy and median tumor size were similar in both groups. There was no significant difference in adequacy of biopsy, need for repeat biopsy, time to initiate chemotherapy, length of stay, or minor complications. The rate of major complications differed significantly between the 2 groups with 0% after needle core biopsy vs 48% after open biopsy (P = .027).

Conclusions: In children, needle core biopsy is comparable in efficacy with open biopsy in the diagnosis of intermediate- and high-risk neuroblastoma with significantly lower rates of major postoperative complications. These findings warrant a larger scale evaluation of diagnostic needle core biopsies in pediatric patients with solid tumor.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Abdominal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Biopsy / statistics & numerical data
  • Biopsy, Needle / adverse effects
  • Biopsy, Needle / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gene Amplification
  • Genes, myc
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnosis*
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tumor Burden