Clinical Studies

Brain biopsy - a definitive diagnosis that can help your pet

"Clinical Evaluation of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Compatible, Frameless Stereotactic Brain Biopsy System in Dogs"


Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a brain biopsy system guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Obtaining a definitive diagnosis before treating brain tumors is one of the biggest challenges facing veterinary neurologists. MRI is a useful tool that can be used to identify the location of tumors and give clues to the tumor type, but definitive diagnosis is not possible using MRI alone. Open brain surgery can provide tissues for specific diagnoses but is expensive and can come with significant risks. In addition, some brain tumors cannot be completely removed with surgery. If successful, this study will provide a method for obtaining definitive diagnosis of the tumor type that is less invasive than open brain surgery.


If this study is successful, it could be the first MRI compatible system used in veterinary clinics for diagnosing brain tumors in dogs. The study will cover the cost for anesthesia, one 20-minute MRI for biopsy planning, the brain biopsy procedure, analysis of biopsy samples, and 72 hours of routine monitoring in the Small Animal Intensive Care Unit (approximate value: $1,500). In addition, the biopsy will provide a definitive diagnosis that will allow the clinician to choose the most appropriate treatment protocol and give you a more accurate prognosis for your dog.

Enrollment Requirements

Dogs who participate in this study must have a diagnosis of a brain mass (tumor) based on an initial MRI. Enrolled dogs must be deemed healthy enough by the neurologist to undergo anesthesia, MRI and a brain biopsy (total biopsy time will be approximately four hours). Following the brain biopsy procedure, enrolled dogs must remain hospitalized at WSU-VTH for three days for neurologic monitoring. If in the unfortunate event that the dog dies during the study period, an autopsy is required to confirm the cause of death.

Treatment Methods

Dogs will be anesthetized for the MRI and biopsy procedure. Once anesthetized markers will be attached to the dog's teeth using a dental mold. These markers provide a point of reference on the MRI and during the biopsy procedure and will be removed after each procedure. On day 1, the dog will receive a MRI scan to re-locate the brain mass and for biopsy planning. On day 2, the brain biopsy procedure will be performed in our neurosurgical suite. Using the images from the MRI scan and our neuronavigation system, a specialized biopsy needle will be placed into the brain mass and multiple biopsy samples will be taken for analysis. Following the biopsy, the dog will be moved to the Small Animal Intensive Care Unit where it will be closely monitored for three days.

Owner Responsibilities

Owners are responsible for the costs associated with bloodwork, medications, and fluid therapy (approximately $500). Costs for additional treatments associated with unforeseen complications are not covered by this study.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Valorie Wiss, Clinical Studies Coordinator
Office: 509-335-0798
Cell: 509-432-5345

Dr. Annie Chen-Allen
Office: 509-335-0711