Needle Biopsies Can be Killers

May 8th, 2011
in econ_news

doctor small Econintersect:  Needle biopsies have been a common diagnostic technique for prostate cancer and there is now data that indicates the procedure may have more than incidental risk.  Based on research in a news article from Bloomberg, there is a risk of mortality from needle biopsies.  A study in Toronto has found that nine of 10,000 patients died from antibiotic resistant bacteria within a month of undergoing a needle biopsy.  Extrapolating that result to the more than 1 million precedures per year in the U.S., the implication is that more than 900 deaths could be occurring annually.

Follow up:

From Bloomberg:

Studies emerging during the past year have uncovered that a small, yet growing percentage of those undergoing routine needle biopsy tests are becoming critically ill and dying from bacterial infections. Infectious complications including sepsis, the condition Greenstein had, from prostate biopsies have more than doubled in less than a decade, studies from three countries show. Nine out of 10,000 men whose tests were negative died within a month, researchers in Toronto reported in the Journal of Urology in March last year.

While needle biopsies are also widely used for diagnosis of cancers other than those of the prostate, the studies have focused on that procedure because the repeated transrectal insertion of the biopsy needle is at particular risk for transmitting bacteria.

Source:  Bloomberg

Hat tip:  Naked Capitalism

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