Diagnostic yield of stereotactic brain biopsy in a Sub-Saharan tertiary center: A comprehensive 10-year retrospective analysis

Document Type



General Surgery (East Africa)


Background: Stereotactic brain biopsy is a crucial minimally invasive surgical technique leveraged to obtain tissue specimens from deep-seated intracranial lesions, offering a safer alternative to open craniotomy for patients who cannot tolerate the latter. Despite its effectiveness, the diagnostic yield varies across different centers and has not been widely studied in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: A single-center retrospective analysis was conducted on 67 consecutive stereotactic brain biopsy procedures carried out by experienced neurosurgeons between January 2012 and December 2022 at a tertiary center in Sub-Saharan Africa. Preoperative clinical status, biopsy type, postoperative complication rate, and histological diagnosis were meticulously analyzed. Factors associated with negative biopsy results were identified using IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences SPSS version for Mac, with Fisher exact test employed to detect differences in patient characteristics. Statistical significance was pegged at P < 0.05.

Results: The overall diagnostic yield rate was 67%. Major contributors to negative biopsy outcomes were superficial location of the lesion, lesion size less than 10 cc, and the use of the Cape Town Stereotactic System. Enhanced yield rates of up to 93% were realized through the application of magnetic resonance imaging-based images, Stealth Station 7, and frozen section analysis. No correlation was observed between the number of cores obtained and the yield rate. Procedure complications were negligible, and no procedure-related mortality was recorded.

Conclusions: The diagnostic yield rate from our study was somewhat lower than previously reported in contemporary literature, primarily attributed to the differing definitions of diagnostic yield, the dominant use of the older framed Cape Town Stereotactic System, computed tomography-based imaging, and the absence of intraoperative frozen section. Nevertheless, biopsies conducted using the frameless system were comparable with studies from other global regions. Our findings reaffirm that stereotactic brain biopsy when complemented with magnetic resonance imaging-based imaging, frameless stereotactic systems and intraoperative frozen section is a safe, effective, and reliable method for obtaining histological diagnosis.

Publication (Name of Journal)

World Neurosurgery