Should Renal Mass Biopsy Be Performed prior to or Concomitantly with Thermal Ablation?

Published:August 01, 2018DOI:



      To determine diagnostic yield of renal biopsies performed in patients referred for image-guided tumor ablation (IGTA) and the frequency with which biopsy results would have obviated the need for subsequent ablation.

      Materials and Methods

      Retrospective review of an internal ablation database of a single institution revealed 401 consecutive percutaneous renal mass IGTAs performed from April 2000 to April 2015. Of 401 ablations, 32 were excluded, yielding 369 ablation events in 342 patients, which represented the study cohort. Patients were subdivided into groups according to whether or not biopsy was performed. Lesions were categorized according to size, malignancy/benignity, and pathology.


      IGTA was performed with biopsy for 317/369 (85.9%) and without biopsy for 52/369 (14.1%) lesions. Overall diagnostic yield for percutaneous biopsy was 94.3% (299/317). Based on biopsy results, 82.6% (262/317) were classified as malignant or suspicious, 9.5% (30/317) were classified as likely benign, and 2.2% (7/317) were classified as definitively benign. Only definitively benign lesions were designated as obviating the need for IGTA. IGTA was supported by biopsy results in the remaining 97.8% (310/317), including renal cell carcinomas, oncocytic neoplasms, metastases, and nondiagnostic biopsy results.


      Biopsy of renal masses with suspicious imaging features rarely (2.2%) obviated the need for IGTA. For patients who have undergone counseling and have elected to forgo active surveillance and surgical options, biopsy can safely be performed concomitantly with ablation.


      CI (confidence interval), IGTA (image-guided thermal ablation), RCC (renal cell carcinoma)
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