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Closed vertebral biopsy

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A study of cadaveric vertebral biopsy and a review of 100 clinical biopsies has shown that needles and trephines producing tissue specimens of two millimetres or more in diameter can be expected to give a high degree of diagnostic accuracy. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate was a more useful screening investigation than were estimations of serum alkaline phosphatase. The complications are described. It is suggested that patients with painful thoracic metastases and evidence of progressive cord compression should have early decompression after open biopsy if further neurological compromise is to be prevented.

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