The ocular consequences and applicability of minimally invasive 25-gauge transvitreal retinochoroidal biopsy

Ophthalmology. 2013 Dec;120(12):2565-2572. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2013.07.043. Epub 2013 Sep 17.


Objective: To determine the applicability and ocular morbidity of the 25-gauge transvitreal retinochoroidal biopsy technique in the management of intraocular tumors.

Design: Retrospective, consecutive, observational, single-surgeon case series.

Participants: A total of 124 biopsies were performed in 123 patients with intraocular tumors in the posterior segment from January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2011.

Methods: The biopsies were performed under general anesthesia with standard 25-gauge vitrectomy equipment. The vitreous body and the retinotomies were left untreated with the exception of 1 patient in whom a complete vitrectomy and oil tamponade were performed. Histopathologic examination of all samples was performed and cytogenetic testing with fluorescence in situ hybridization and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification were performed in the uveal melanomas. Median follow-up time was 26.3 months (range, 2.0-47.2 months).

Main outcome measures: Histopathologic diagnosis and chromosome 3 analysis of the biopsy-obtained tissue sample. Clinical observations included visual acuity, retinal detachment, vitreous hemorrhage, and secondary enucleation.

Results: Histopathologic diagnosis was obtained in 97.6% (n = 121) of the intraocular tumors, and chromosome 3 status could be determined in 97.3% (n = 110) of uveal melanoma patients. Preoperative retinal detachment was present in 65% (n = 55). Apart from in 1 case, all retinal detachments remained stable during surgery. Additionally, 7.1% (n = 6) of cases demonstrated retinal detachment during the follow-up period, and vitreous hemorrhage was observed in 96.5% of cases (n = 82) 1 day after surgery. Both conditions regressed spontaneously in nearly all cases. Retinal detachment surgery and vitrectomy resulting from persistent vitreous hemorrhage was performed in 3.5% (n = 3) and 5.9% (n = 5) of patients, respectively. The frequency of secondary enucleated eyes was 6.7% (n = 5). Free tumor cells after biopsy were described in 15.9% (n = 7), but no tumor recurrence at the sclerotomy sites was observed. A decrease in visual acuity from better than 0.1 (20/200) at diagnosis to 0.1 or worse at 1 and 3 years of follow-up was observed in 21.7% (n = 13) and 41.7% (n = 5) of patients, respectively.

Conclusions: The 25-gauge transvitreal retinochoroidal biopsy provides a large sample, adequate for histopathologic examination and cytogenetic analysis. The procedure is associated with a low risk of ocular complications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle / methods*
  • Choroid / pathology
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3 / genetics
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Needles
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Detachment / diagnosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Uveal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Vitrectomy / instrumentation
  • Vitreous Hemorrhage / diagnosis

Supplementary concepts

  • Uveal melanoma