The value of preoperative biopsy in the management of solid presacral tumors

Amit Merchea, David W. Larson, Martin Hubner, Doris E. Wenger, Peter S. Rose, Eric J. Dozois

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Surgical decision making and the use of neoadjuvant therapy in the management of solid presacral tumors rely greatly on an accurate preoperative diagnosis. The utility of preoperative biopsy has been questioned because of potential complications and the increasing accuracy of modern imaging. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to analyze biopsy-related morbidity and to compare the accuracy of imaging versus biopsy in making a preoperative diagnosis. DESIGN: This study is a retrospective review of all patients who underwent biopsy of presacral tumors at Mayo Clinic Rochester between 1990 and 2010. The demographics, pathology, complications of biopsy, and imaging were reviewed. Biopsy results and radiologic findings were matched with the final pathology and analyzed. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at a tertiary care center. PATIENTS: Adult patients with solid presacral tumors who underwent preoperative biopsy were evaluated. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcomes measured were the biopsy-related complications and the accuracy of preoperative imaging and biopsy in comparison with final pathology. RESULTS: Seventy-six biopsies were performed in 73 patients. Fifty-six patients underwent percutaneous biopsies, 14 underwent open biopsies, and 3 underwent both. Biopsy-specific complications included 2 hematomas (1 open, 1 percutaneous). Preoperative biopsy correlated with the postoperative pathologic diagnosis in 63 patients (91%). Of the 6 solid presacral tumors diagnosed incorrectly on biopsy, 1 was falsely reported as benign. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of biopsy to detect malignant disease was 96%, 100%, 100%, and 98%. Ten of 35 patients (29%) with a definitive imaging diagnosis were given incorrect diagnoses. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of imaging to diagnose malignant disease was 83%, 81%, 83%, and 81%. LIMITATIONS: This investigation was designed as a retrospective study. CONCLUSION: Preoperative biopsy of presacral tumors is safe and highly concordant with postoperative pathology in comparison with imaging. Given the significant differences in therapeutic approach for benign versus malignant solid presacral tumors, as well as the current limitations of imaging, a percutaneous preoperative biopsy should be obtained to guide management decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-760
Number of pages5
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013


  • Biopsy
  • Biopsy complications
  • Presacral tumor
  • Retrorectal tumor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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