Percutaneous biopsy of lesions in the cavernous sinus region through the foramen ovale: diagnostic accuracy and limits in 50 patients

J Neurosurg 116:390–398, 2012.DOI: 10.3171/2011.10.JNS11783

The cavernous sinus and surrounding regions—specifically the Meckel cave, posterior sector of the cavernous sinus itself, and the upper part of the petroclival region—are the location of a large variety of lesions that require individual consideration regarding treatment strategy. These regions may be reached for biopsy by a percutaneous needle inserted through the foramen ovale. The aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of percutaneous biopsy in a consecutive series of 50 patients referred for surgery between 1991 and 2010.

Methods. Seven biopsies (14%) were unproductive and 43 (86%) were productive, among which 28 lesions subsequently underwent histopathological examination during a second (open) surgery. To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the procedure, results from surgery were compared with those from the biopsy.

Results. Sensitivity of the percutaneous biopsy was 0.83 (95% CI 0.52–0.98), specificity was 1 (95% CI 0.79–1), and k coefficient was 0.81.

Conclusions. Because of its valuable diagnostic accuracy, percutaneous biopsy of the cavernous sinus and surrounding regions should be performed in patients with parasellar masses when neuroimaging does not provide sufficient information of a histopathological nature. This procedure would enable patients to obtain the most appropriate therapy, such as resective surgery, corticosteroids, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or radiosurgery.