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Neurological diseases of unknown etiology: Brain-biopsy diagnostic yields and safety

      Highlights

      • In patients undergoing brain biopsy for neurological diseases of unknown etiology, we found high rates of specific histological (71.3%) and final diagnoses (83.1%), leading to therapeutic management change(s) for 75% of cases.
      • Immunodepression was independently associated with specific histological diagnosis.
      • Brain biopsy–related mortality occurred in 1.1% and permanent neurological morbidity in 0.6% of the patients.
        For highly selected patients with neurological diseases of unknown etiology, brain biopsy has a high diagnostic yield and low frequency of severe complications.

      Abstract

      Background

      For nonneoplastic neurological diseases, no recommendation exists regarding the place or appropriate timing of brain biopsy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic yield and safety of brain biopsies from patients with neurological diseases of unknown etiology.

      Methods

      We performed a retrospective cohort study from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2018. We analyzed 1847 brain-biopsied patients, including 178 biopsies indicated for neurological diseases of unknown etiology. Specific histological and final diagnosis rates, positive diagnosis-associated factors, complication rate and complication-associated factors were assessed.

      Results

      Specific histological diagnosis and final diagnosis rates were 71.3% and 83.1%, respectively, leading to therapeutic management change(s) for 75.3% of patients. Brain- biopsy–related mortality and permanent neurological morbidity occurred in 1.1% and 0.6% of the patients, respectively. The multivariable logistic-regression model retained (odds ratio [95% CI] only immunodepression (2.2 [1.1–4.7]; P=.04) as being independently associated with specific histological diagnosis, while supratentorial biopsy-targeted lesions (4.1 [1.1–15.2]; P=.04) were independently associated with a final diagnosis. Biopsies obtained from comatose patients were less contributive to the diagnosis (0.2 [0.05–0.7]; P=.01). Prebiopsy platelet count <100 G/L (28.5 [1.8–447]; P=.02), hydrocephalus (6.3 [1.2–15.3]; P=.02) and targeted lesions <1 cm (4.3 [1.2–15.3]; P=.03) were independently associated with brain biopsy-related complications.

      Conclusion

      For highly selected patients with neurological diseases of unknown etiology, brain biopsy has a high diagnostic yield and low frequency of severe complications. We advocate that this procedure be considered early in the diagnosis algorithm of these patients.

      Keywords

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