In this surgical procedure, the physician takes a small sample of tissue from the brain through a hole in the skull. Stereotactic biopsy is commonly used to take a sample from a tumor. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and requires at least an overnight hospital stay.
Small targeting stickers are attached to the head, and the patient is placed in an MRI machine. The brain is scanned to produce a three-dimensional map of the tumor. The stickers provide reference points on the MRI image.
The scalp is numbed, and a small portion of the head may be shaved. Children may be given general anesthesia to avoid movement during the surgery, but adults can be kept awake.
Accessing the Brain
The surgeon drills a tiny hole through the skull, exposing the dura (the protective membrane around the brain). The dura is then opened with a small scalpel.
The surgeon guides a thin needle to the target area of the brain. The needle collects tissue cells for analysis. Several samples may be taken to ensure that an adequate amount of tissue is available for the pathologist to review.
End of Procedure and After Care
The needle is removed, and the hole is stitched closed. The tissue sample is later examined in a laboratory. If there is a tumor, the results will show the type and grade of tumor. The patient is closely monitored overnight following the surgery.