, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 859-869
Date: 08 Jun 2014

Random biopsy: when, how many and where to take the cores?

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The optimal random prostate biopsy scheme (PBx) in the initial and repeated setting is still an issue of controversy. We performed an analysis of the recent literature about the prostate biopsy techniques.


We performed a clinical and critical literature review by searching MEDLINE database from January 2005 up to January 2014. Electronic searches were limited to the English language, and the keywords prostate cancer, prostate biopsy, transrectal ultrasound, transperineal prostate biopsy were used.


Prostate biopsy strategy in initial setting. According to the literature and the major international guidelines, the recommended approach in initial setting is still the extended scheme (EPBx) (12 cores). However, there is now a growing evidence in the literature that (a) saturation PBx (>20 cores) (SPBx) might be indicated in patients with PSA <10 ng/ml or low PSA density or large prostate and (b) an individualized approach with more than 12 cores according to the clinical characteristics of the patients may optimize cancer detection in the single patient. Moreover, in the era of multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI), EPBx or SPBX may be substituted by mpMRI-targeted biopsies that have demonstrated superiority over systematic random biopsies for the detection of clinically significant disease and representation of disease burden, while deploying fewer cores. Prostate biopsy strategy in repeat setting. How and how many cores should be taken in the different scenarios in the repeated setting is still unclear. SPBx clearly improves cancer detection if clinical suspicion persists after previous biopsy with negative findings and is able to provide an accurate prediction of prostate tumour volume and grade. Nevertheless, international guidelines do not strongly recommended SPBx in all situations of repeated setting. In the active surveillance and in focal therapy protocols, the optimal schemes have to be defined.


The course of PBx has changed significantly from sextant biopsies to systematic and from extended to SPBx schemes. The issue about the number and location of the cores is still a matter of debate both in initial and in repeat setting. At present, EPBx is sufficient in most of the cases to provide adequate diagnosis and prostate cancer characterization in the initial setting, while SPBx seems to be necessary in repeat setting. The PBx schemes are evolving also because the scenario in which a PBx is necessary is changing. Random prostate PBx do not represent the future, while imaging target biopsy are becoming more popular.