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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2009 Sep;53(3):356-60. doi: 10.1002/pbc.22059.

Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy for the diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma in childhood.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK.



Most commonly a tissue diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) in children is made by biopsy as opposed to primary resection. Open surgical procedures are often recommended to obtain sufficient material for accurate and complete diagnostic work up. Our institution has routinely used image-guided needle biopsies for soft tissue tumour diagnosis. We therefore sought to assess diagnostic accuracy and completeness, and procedure safety of consecutive patients diagnosed by needle biopsies in a single institution.


A retrospective review of consecutive biopsies of patients who were diagnosed with RMS or undifferentiated sarcoma in a single institution over a 9-year period.


There were 24 children diagnosed with RMS or undifferentiated sarcoma who underwent 37 procedures (30 primary site and 7 draining lymph nodes). In the primary site diagnostic procedures, definitive diagnosis was made in all cases. In the majority of cases there was sufficient material for molecular analysis, cytogenetics and freezing. There were no complications of biopsy.


In the hands of experienced operators, image-guided needle biopsies of RMSs allow for accurate diagnosis, allow sufficient material to be obtained for supplementary studies and research, and are associated with minimal morbidity.

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