Percutaneous Image-guided Core Needle Biopsy for Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma

Published:October 23, 2019DOI:



      To better understand the safety and diagnostic yield of percutaneous core-needle biopsy (PCNB) for upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC).


      Of 444 patients undergoing radical nephroureterectomy (RNU) for UTUC between 2009 and 2017 at our institution, 42 who had PCNB prior to RNU were identified for analysis. Endpoints included safety, diagnostic yield, and concordance with RNU pathology. PCNB specimens were deemed histologically concordant with RNU specimens for cases when cytologic evaluation of biopsy specimen and corresponding pathologic evaluation of RNU specimen both made a histologic diagnosis of urothelial carcinoma.


      Median tumor size was 3.8 cm (1.2-10.2 cm). All lesions arose from the pelvicalyceal system. CT-guidance was utilized in 52% (n = 22), and ultrasound-guidance in 48% (n = 20). Relative to RNU pathology, 95% of PCNBs demonstrated histologic concordance. Histologic grade was provided in 69% (n = 29) of PCNBs, with a 90% (n = 26) concordance with surgical pathology. Grades 1-2 and 3 complications occurred in 14.3% (n = 6) and 2.4% (n = 1), respectively. At a median follow-up of 28.2 months (range, 1.2-97.1 months) after biopsy, no cases of radiographic tract seeding were identified.


      In our cohort of 42 patients undergoing RNU for UTUC, PCNB appeared a safe diagnostic tool with high histologic yield and grade concordance. With greater than 2 years of follow-up, no cases of tract seeding were identified.
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