Stereotactic biopsy complications

Stereotactic biopsy complications

The most frequent complication after stereotactic biopsy is hemorrhage, although most are too small to have a clinical impact. The risk of a major complication (mostly due to hemorrhage) in nonimmunocompromised (NIC) patients ranges from 0–3% (with most < 1%), and 0–12% in AIDS 1)

Higher complication rates seen in AIDS patients in some series may be due to reduced platelet count or function, and to vessel fragility in primary CNS lymphoma. In NIC patients, multifocal high-grade gliomas had the highest complication rate. Infection is an infrequent complication with a needle biopsy.

About 132 articles were found after research in the Medline database. Riche et al. only considered English references published between 1994 and June 2019. Additional studies were found by using the references from articles identified in the original search. This systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. After applying exclusion criteria, they eventually considered 25 relevant studies. The mortality rate varies from 0.7 to 4%. Overall morbidity ranges from 3 to 13%. Most of the complications are revealed by the following symptoms: neurological impairment (transient or permanent), seizure, and unconsciousness. Symptomatic hemorrhage range varies from 0.9 to 8.6%, whereas considering asymptomatic bleeding, the range may be up to 59.8%. Complications were clinically evident within minutes to a few hours after the biopsy. Corrective surgeries are very rare (< 1%). Complications occurring after a frame-based stereotactic brain biopsy are rare but with serious side effects. It rarely leads to death or to permanent neurological impairment. The description and classification of complications are often heterogeneous in the literature. The use of a grading scale could help comparisons between series from around the world. Future studies should establish a score that allows neurosurgeon to predict post-biopsy complications 2).

Negative biopsy

Insufficient yield in up to 5% as well as surgical complications in up to 6 to 12% has been reported 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

Livermore et al., advocate intra-operative histopathological analysis to decrease negative biopsy rates and advise increased caution when undertaking biopsies of deep lesions or suspected lymphoma cases due to the potentially increased risk of hemorrhage 8).




Nicolato A, Gerosa M, Piovan E, et al. Computerized Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Guided Stereotactic Brain Biopsy in Nonimmunocom- promised and AIDS Patients. Surg Neurol. 1997; 48: 267–277

Riche M, Amelot A, Peyre M, Capelle L, Carpentier A, Mathon B. Complications after frame-based stereotactic brain biopsy: a systematic review. Neurosurg Rev. 2020 Jan 4. doi: 10.1007/s10143-019-01234-w. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 31900737.

Dammers R, Haitsma IK, Schouten JW, Kros JM, Avezaat CJ, Vincent AJ. Safety and efficacy of frameless and frame-based intracranial biopsy techniques. Acta Neurochir (Wien). 2008;150(1):23-29.

Hall WA. The safety and efficacy of stereotactic biopsy for intracranial lesions. Cancer. 1998;82(9):1749-1755.

Lu Y, Yeung C, Radmanesh A, Wiemann R, Black PM, Golby AJ. Comparative effectiveness of frame-based, frameless, and intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging-guided brain biopsy techniques. World Neurosurg. 2015;83(3):261-268.

Malone H, Yang J, Hershman DL, Wright JD, Bruce JN, Neugut AI. Complications following stereotactic needle biopsy of intracranial tumors. World Neurosurg. 2015;84(4):1084-1089.

Dammers R, Schouten JW, Haitsma IK, Vincent AJ, Kros JM, Dirven CM. Towards improving the safety and diagnostic yield of stereotactic biopsy in a single centre. Acta Neurochir. 2010;152(11):1915-1921.

Livermore LJ, Ma R, Bojanic S, Pereira EA. Yield and complications of frame-based and frameless stereotactic brain biopsy – The value of intra-operative histological analysis. Br J Neurosurg. 2014 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 24568533.

Chronic subdural hematoma surgery complications

Chronic subdural hematoma surgery complications

Common postoperative complications include acute epidural and/or subdural bleeding, tension pneumocephalusintracranial hematomas and ischemic cerebral infarction.

Failure of the brain to re-expand, pneumocephalus, incomplete evacuation, and recurrence of the fluid collection are the most frequently.


Seizures (including intractable status epilepticus).

Intracerebral hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH): occurs in 0.7–5%. Very devastating in this setting: one–third of these patients die and one third are severely disabled

Brain herniation

Chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) with brain herniation signs is rarely seen in the emergent department. As such, there are few cumulative data to analyze such cases.

Failure of postoperative cerebral reexpansion

A wide variation in postoperative drainage volumes is observed during treatment of chronic subdural hematoma (CSDH) with twist-drill or burr-hole craniostomy and closed-system drainage.

The postoperative drainage volumes varied greatly because of differences in the outer membrane permeability of CSDH, and such variation seems to be related to the findings on the CT scans obtained preoperatively. Patients with CSDH in whom there is less postoperative drainage than expected should be carefully observed, with special attention paid to the possibility of recurrence 1).

Patients with high subdural pressure showed the most rapid brain expansion and clinical improvement during the first 2 days. Nevertheless, a computerized tomography (CT) scan performed on the 10th day after surgery demonstrated persisting subdural fluid in 78% of cases. After 40 days, the CT scan was normal in 27 of the 32 patients. There was no mortality and no significant morbidity. A study suggests that well developed subdural neomembranes are the crucial factors for cerebral reexpansion, a phenomenon that takes at least 10 to 20 days. However, blood vessel dysfunction and impairment of cerebral blood flow may participate in delay of brain reexpansion. It may be argued that additional surgical procedures, such as repeated tapping of the subdural fluid, craniotomy, and membranectomy or even craniectomy, should not be evaluated earlier than 20 days after the initial surgical procedure unless the patient has deteriorated markedly 2).


Postoperative pneumocephalus

Remote cerebellar hemorrhage (RCH)

Epidural hematoma

After chronic subdural hematoma evacuation surgery, the development of epidural hematoma is a very rare entity.

Akpinar et al. report the case of a 41-year-old man with an epidural hematoma complication after chronic subdural hematoma evacuation. Under general anesthesia, the patient underwent a large craniotomy with closed system drainage performed to treat the chronic subdural hematoma. After chronic subdural hematoma evacuation, there was epidural leakage on the following day.

Although trauma is the most common risk factor in young CSDH patients, some other predisposing factors may exist. Intracranial hypotension can cause EDH. Craniotomy and drainage surgery can usually resolve the problem. Because of rapid dynamic intracranial changes, epidural leakages can occur. A large craniotomy flap and silicone drainage in the operation area are key safety points for neurosurgeons and hydration is essential 3).

Intracranial subdural empyema

A case of intracranial subdural empyema following chronic subdural hematoma drainage 4).

Skin depression

Oculomotor nerve palsy



Kwon TH, Park YK, Lim DJ, Cho TH, Chung YG, Chung HS, Suh JK. Chronic subdural hematoma: evaluation of the clinical significance of postoperative drainage volume. J Neurosurg. 2000 Nov;93(5):796-9. PubMed PMID: 11059660.

Markwalder TM, Steinsiepe KF, Rohner M, Reichenbach W, Markwalder H. The course of chronic subdural hematomas after burr-hole craniostomy and closed-system drainage. J Neurosurg. 1981 Sep;55(3):390-6. PubMed PMID: 7264730.

Akpinar A, Ucler N, Erdogan U, Yucetas CS. Epidural Hematoma Complication after Rapid Chronic Subdural Hematoma Evacuation: A Case Report. Am J Case Rep. 2015 Jul 6;16:430-433. PubMed PMID: 26147957.

Ovalioglu AO, Aydin OA. A case of subdural empyema following chronic subdural hematoma drainage. Neurol India. 2013 Mar-Apr;61(2):207-9. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.111165. PubMed PMID: 23644343.
WhatsApp WhatsApp us
%d bloggers like this: