In a study of complication rates following prostate biopsy among Medicare beneficiaries, Johns Hopkins researchers have found a significant rise in serious complications requiring hospitalization. The researchers found that this common outpatient procedure, used to diagnose prostate cancer, was associated with a 6.9 percent rate of hospitalization within 30 days of biopsy compared to a 2.9 percent hospitalization rate among a control group of men who did not have a prostate biopsy. The study, which will be published in the November 2011 issue of The Journal of Urology, was posted early online.
The researchers emphasize that this new data should serve as a reminder to physicians to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of biopsy for individual patients and take all precautions to prevent infections and other complications.
The Johns Hopkins team's findings are the result of the largest analysis ever performed of Medicare records of American men age 65 and older who underwent prostate biopsies in the last two decades. They found that having a prostate biopsy makes patients more than twice as likely to need hospitalization in the immediate post-procedure period. Those hospitalized had a range of complications, such as bleeding and infection, as well as flare-ups of underlying medical conditions, such as heart failure or breathing disorders.
Overall, mortality rates in men undergoing prostate biopsies did not increase. However, men hospitalized with biopsy-related infections had a 12-fold higher risk of death compared to men who did not have a biopsy.
"Prostate biopsy is an essential procedure for detecting prostate cancers," says Edward Schaeffer, M.D., Ph.D., a Johns Hopkins urologist and oncologist and the study's senior investigator. "Coupled with appropriate screening, prostate biopsies save lives. However, it is important for men to be aware of the possible risks of prostate biopsies, which are often described as s
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Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions