Validity of negative bone biopsy in suspicious bone lesions

Mine B Lange*, Lars J Petersen, Michael B Nielsen, Helle D Zacho


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Background: The presence of malignant cells in bone biopsies is considered gold standard to verify occurrence of cancer, whereas a negative bone biopsy can represent a false negative, with a risk of increasing patient morbidity and mortality and creating misleading conclusions in cancer research. However, a paucity of literature documents the validity of negative bone biopsy as an exclusion criterion for the presence of skeletal malignancies.

Purpose: To investigate the validity of a negative bone biopsy in bone lesions suspicious of malignancy.

Material and Method: A retrospective cohort of 215 consecutive targeted non-malignant skeletal biopsies from 207 patients (43% women, 57% men, median age 64, and range 94) representing suspicious focal bone lesions, collected from January 1, 2011, to July 31, 2013, was followed over a 2-year period to examine any additional biopsy, imaging, and clinical follow-up information to categorize the original biopsy as truly benign, malignant, or equivocal. Standard deviations and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.

Results: 210 of 215 biopsies (98%; 95% CI 0.94-0.99) showed to be truly benign 2 years after initial biopsy. Two biopsies were false negatives (1%; 95% CI 0.001-0.03), and three were equivocal (lack of imaging description).

Conclusion: Our study documents negative bone biopsy as a valid criterion for the absence of bone metastasis. Since only 28% had a confirmed diagnosis of prior cancer and not all patients received adequately sensitive imaging, our results might not be applicable to all cancer patients with suspicious bone lesions.

TidsskriftActa Radiologica Open
Udgave nummer7
StatusUdgivet - 27 jul. 2021

Bibliografisk note

© The Foundation Acta Radiologica 2021.


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