Stereotactic brain biopsy is used to obtain tissue samples of suspicious growths or infections in the brain for more accurate diagnosis.
It often is employed when lesions are located deep in the brain or when the patient cannot have general anesthesia.
The procedure involves MRI, CT scans and three-dimensional computer imaging to precisely target the area of the brain in question. It is minimally invasive and requires a smaller incision in the scalp than traditional craniotomy (open surgery), in which a piece of the skull is removed. The patient is placed under light sedation and fashioned with a head frame—with a pin on each side of the forehead and two in the back of the skull—to both keep the head still and guide the biopsy needle during the procedure. The needle is inserted through a small hole drilled into the skull and extracts a tiny amount of brain tissue. This tissue is sent to a pathologist, who determines the tumor’s type and grade.
Stereotactic brain biopsy typically takes about 1-1/2 hours. Patients usually spend one or two days in the hospital for monitoring before they are discharged. Risks associated with the procedure are rare and include bleeding at the tissue site, infection and seizures.