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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Nov;57(5):644-8. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182a0e0d8.

Percutaneous liver biopsy: pathologic diagnosis and complications in children.

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*Department of Surgery †Department of Radiology ‡Department of Gastroenterology §Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital Los Angeles ||Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA.



The aim of this study was to determine patient factors that predict diagnostic failure or increased risk of bleeding complications following percutaneous liver biopsy in children.


A retrospective review of all children undergoing percutaneous liver biopsy at a single institution between July 2008 and July 2011 was performed. Demographics, comorbid conditions, preprocedural diagnoses/indications, procedural details, laboratory data, pathologic diagnosis, and complications were recorded. Continuous data were analyzed by Wilcoxon test and categorical data by Fisher exact test to determine statistical significance.


Two hundred thirteen children (104 girls) with a median age of 7 years (range 1 week-22 years) underwent 328 percutaneous liver biopsies. Nine (4.2%) experienced a decrease in hemoglobin >2 g/dL, 7 required transfusion (3.3%), and 1 patient died (0.5%). Younger age (1.8 vs 84 months, P = 0.05) and lower preprocedural hematocrit (29.3 vs 34.3, P = 0.05) predicted bleeding complications, whereas the number of biopsies, comorbid conditions, and coagulopathy did not. Sixty-three (19.2%) biopsies were insufficient for definitive histologic evaluation on initial biopsy in 57 patients. Twenty-one of 57 patients (37%) underwent repeat percutaneous biopsy and 3 of 57 (8%) underwent surgical biopsy. Biopsy provided definitive diagnosis in 86% of cases when repeat biopsy was performed. Shorter specimen length (1.4 vs 1.7 cm, P < 0.01) and biopsies performed for unexplained elevation of liver function tests (34.9% vs 16.7%, P < 0.01) were predictive of nondiagnosis.


Percutaneous liver biopsy is safe with a low rate of bleeding-related complications. Ensuring adequate sample length and careful patient selection may further increase the diagnostic yield.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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