Stereotactic brain biopsy techniques have been a focus of rapid technological innovation. The recent advent of frameless stereotaxy has invited the question of whether it can provide the same diagnostic yield as frame-based techniques, without increasing risk of harm to patients. The goal of this meta-analysis was to compare each of these techniques in terms of yield and safety.
We independently searched four databases for English studies comparing frameless and frame-based stereotactic brain biopsies. Our primary outcome was biopsy diagnostic yield. Our secondary outcomes included mortality, morbidity (e.g., symptomatic postbiopsy intracranial hemorrhage, asymptomatic postbiopsy intracranial hemorrhage, new postbiopsy neurological deficit, and postbiopsy seizure), and frequency of repeat biopsy. We calculated pooled estimates and relative risks for dichotomous outcomes using Review Manager 5.3, with corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
A total of 3256 stereotactic brain biopsies (2050 frame based and 1206 frameless), from 20 studies, were included in our final analysis. The results did not demonstrate any significant difference between the two stereotactic systems in terms of diagnostic yield (risk ratio [RR] 1.00, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.99–1.02,
P= 0.64, I2 = 0%). The only significant difference was the increased frequency of asymptomatic hemorrhages in the frameless group (RR 1.37, 95% CI 1.06–1.75, P= 0.01, I2 = 0%). Application of Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation to the results yielded very low quality of all outcomes. Conclusion:
Based on very low-quality evidence, both frame-based and frameless stereotaxy are safe and effective for biopsy of intracranial tumors. Further study of patient preference and cost comparing analysis is required to identify if either modality should be preferred.