Biopsy versus resection in the management of malignant gliomas

DOI: 10.3171/2009.7.JNS09758

The aim of this study was to answer the question whether quality of life and progression-free and overall survival are increased in adults with supratentorial malignant glioma who are treated with cytoreductive resection as compared with those who only undergo biopsy.

Methods. A literature search of the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL was performed to identify relevant studies published before May 2008. Hand-searching of reference lists of the identified studies and relevant review articles was also performed. A study was considered eligible, regardless of study design (prospective or retrospective), if: 1) quality of life and/or progression-free and/or overall survival was compared among adult patients undergoing biopsy or resection, and 2) patient age and Karnofsky Performance Scale scores were not significantly different among the 2 groups compared.

Results. One randomized controlled trial and 4 retrospective studies (involving a total of 1111 patients) were found eligible for this systematic review. A meta-analysis of the eligible studies demonstrated a significant increase in overall survival in the patients treated with resection instead of biopsy (hazard ratio 0.61, 95% CI 0.52–0.71, p <0.0001, fixed-effect model). Although statistical pooling was not feasible, the available data suggest that quality of life was increased in patients treated with resection rather than biopsy, while there did not seem to be any significant difference in progression-free survival between the 2 groups.

Conclusions. Based on the best available evidence, it appears that cytoreductive resection in adults with supratentorial malignant glioma is associated with improved overall survival as compared with biopsy. However, welldesigned prospective studies are needed for more solid conclusions to be drawn.