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Stereotactic Brain Tumor Biopsy

A stereotactic brain tumor biopsy can help diagnose abnormal tissue in the brain.

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What is a Stereotactic Brain Biopsy?

A stereotactic brain biopsy is a diagnostic technique used to acquire samples of brain tissue.

This test can be helpful in determining the presence of a tumor, infection, vascular abnormality or cancerous cells.

This minimally invasive procedure uses advanced technology including MRI or CT scans and three-dimensional computer imaging, to safely and precisely reach a specific area of the brain.

Surgeons may opt to use a stereotactic brain biopsy rather than surgical resection or an open biopsy when the area in question is in a portion of the brain that is difficult and dangerous to access. Sometimes a tumor cannot be safely removed, thus a biopsy is recommended instead, in order to confirm a diagnosis

The Stereotactic Brain Biopsy Procedure

  • This procedure begins with the patient’s head carefully positioned and placed in a fixation device.
  • A CT scan or MRI scan is taken of the brain. A computer will be used to read the scan and locate the precise area of the brain tissue to be sampled. This scan allows us in real time to know exactly where on the scalp or where in the brain we are. The stereotactic or navigation scan is a GPS that maps out the brain.
  • A very small incision is made in the skin of the scalp. Special instruments are then used to drill a tiny hole in the exposed bone of the skull. Using the imaging scans taken and 3D computer technology, the surgeon will guide the biopsy needle into the specific area of the brain targeted and withdraw a tissue sample.
  • Once it is collected, the needle is removed and the incision is sutured closed.

The biopsy is typically completed within one hour. The brain tissue sample is then sent to a pathology laboratory for examination. The results of the stereotactic brain biopsy are usually available in a few days.

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Learn More About Stereotactic Brain Tumor Biopsy

Risks of a Stereotactic Brain biopsy

Complications resulting from a stereotactic brain biopsy are rare, but all surgical procedures carry some form of risk. Risks of a stereotactic brain biopsy may include:

  • Infection
  • Seizure
  • Bleeding in the brain

If the results of the stereotactic brain biopsy are inconclusive, a repeat biopsy may need to be performed.

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