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World J Gastroenterol. 2007 Oct 28;13(40):5336-42.

Liver biopsy in a district general hospital: changes over two decades.

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Liver and Hepatobiliary Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, B15 2TH, United Kingdom.



To study liver biopsy practice over two decades in a district general hospital in the United Kingdom.


We identified all patients who had at least one liver biopsy between 1986 and 2006 from the databases of the radiology and gastroenterology departments. Subjects with incomplete clinical data were excluded from the study.


A total of 103 liver biopsies were performed. Clinical data was available for 88 patients, with 95 biopsies. Between 1986 and 1996, 18 (95%) out of the 19 liver biopsies performed were blind and 6 (33%) were for primary biliary cirrhosis. Between 1996 and 2006, 14 (18%) out of 76 biopsies were blind; and the indications were abnormal liver tests (33%), hepatitis C (12%) and targeted-biopsies (11%). Liver biopsies were unhelpful in 5 (5%) subjects. Pain was the most common complication of liver biopsy (5%). No biopsy-related mortality was reported. There was a trend towards more technical failures and complications with the blind biopsy technique.


Liver biopsies performed in small district hospitals are safe and useful for diagnostic and staging purposes. Abnormal liver tests, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and targeted biopsies are increasingly common indications. Ultrasound-guided liver biopsies are now the preferred method and are associated with fewer complications.

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