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Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2015 Apr;38(2):422-9. doi: 10.1007/s00270-014-0922-1. Epub 2014 Jun 18.

Accessible or inaccessible? Diagnostic efficacy of CT-guided core biopsies of head and neck masses.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Beaumont Hospital, Beaumont Road, Dublin 9, Ireland,



Tissue sampling of lesions in the head and neck is challenging due to complex regional anatomy and sometimes necessitates open surgical biopsy. However, many patients are poor surgical candidates due to comorbidity. Thus, we evaluated the use of CT guidance for establishing histopathological diagnosis of head and neck masses.


All consecutive patients (n = 22) who underwent CT-guided core biopsy of head or neck masses between April 2009 and August 2012 were retrospectively reviewed using the departmental CT interventional procedures database. The indication for each biopsy performed was to establish or exclude a diagnosis of neoplasia in patients with suspicious head or neck lesions found on clinical examination or imaging studies. Patients received conscious sedation and 18 G, semiautomated core needle biopsies were performed by experienced neuroradiologists using 16-slice multidetector row CT imaging guidance (Somatom Definition Siemens Medical Solutions, Germany). Histopathology results of each biopsy were analysed.


Sixteen of 22 biopsies that were performed (73 %) yielded a pathological diagnosis. Anatomic locations biopsied included: masticator (n = 7), parapharyngeal (n = 3), parotid (n = 3), carotid (n = 3), perivertebral (n = 3), pharyngeal (n = 2), and retropharyngeal (n = 1) spaces. Six biopsies (27 %) were nondiagnostic due to inadequate tissue sampling, particularly small biopsy sample size and failure to biopsy the true sampling site due to extensive necrosis. No major complications were encountered.


The use of CT guidance to perform core biopsies of head and neck masses is an effective means of establishing histopathological diagnosis and reduces the need for diagnostic open surgical biopsy and general anaesthesia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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