Electromagnetic navigation system for CT-guided biopsy of small lesions

Liat Appelbaum*, Jacob Sosna, Yizhak Nissenbaum, Alexander Benshtein, S. Nahum Goldberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an electromagnetic navigation system for CT-guided biopsy of small lesions. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Standardized CT anthropomorphic phantoms were biopsied by two attending radiologists. CT scans of the phantom and surface electromagnetic fiducial markers were imported into the memory of the 3D electromagnetic navigation system. Each radiologist assessed the accuracy of biopsy using electromagnetic navigation alone by targeting sets of nine lesions (size range, 8-14 mm; skin to target distance, 5.7-12.8 cm) under eight different conditions of detector field strength and orientation (n = 117). As a control, each radiologist also biopsied two sets of five targets using conventional CT-guided technique. Biopsy accuracy, number of needle passes, procedure time, and radiation dose were compared. RESULTS. Under optimal conditions (phantom perpendicular to the electromagnetic receiver at highest possible field strength), phantom accuracy to the center of the lesion was 2.6 ± 1.1 mm. This translated into hitting 84.4% (38/45) of targets in a single pass (1.1 ± 0.4 CT confirmations), which was significantly fewer than the 3.6 ± 1.3 CT checks required for conventional technique (p < 0.001). The mean targeting time was 38.8 ± 18.2 seconds per lesion. Including procedural planning (∼5.5 minutes) and final CT confirmation of placement (∼3.5 minutes), the full electromagnetic tracking procedure required significantly less time (551.6 ± 87.4 seconds [∼9 minutes]) than conventional CT (833.3 ± 283.8 seconds [∼14 minutes]) for successful targeting (p < 0.001). Less favorable conditions, including nonperpendicular relation between the axis of the machine and weaker field strength, resulted in statistically significant lower accuracy (3.7 ± 1 mm, p ∼ 0.001). Nevertheless, first-pass biopsy accuracy was 58.3% (21/36) and second-pass (35/36) accuracy was 97.2%. Lesions farther from the skin than 20-25 cm were out of range for successful electromagnetic tracking. CONCLUSION. Virtual electromagnetic tracking appears to have high accuracy in needle placement, potentially reducing time and radiation exposure compared with those of conventional CT techniques in the biopsy of small lesions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1194-1200
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • CT-guided biopsy
  • Electromagnetic navigation system
  • Phantom study


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