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Ann Intern Med. 1993 Jan 15;118(2):96-8.

Outcome of patients hospitalized for complications after outpatient liver biopsy.

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Mayo Foundation, Rochester, MN.



To determine the safety of outpatient liver biopsies by analyzing the outcome of patients hospitalized for complications.


Retrospective review.


Large clinic referral center.


All patients admitted after outpatient liver biopsy at the Mayo Clinic from 1 April 1989 to 1 April 1991.


During this period, 405 outpatients underwent biopsy. Of the 405 patients, 13 (3.2%) were admitted with complications after biopsy. Five patients (38%) were admitted with persistent localized pain, five (38%) with orthostatic hypotension, one (8%) with both pain and hypotension, one (8%) with peritoneal signs, and one (8%) with lightheadedness but no orthostatic changes. All complications were noted within 3 hours after the biopsy. Bleeding, potentially the most serious complication, was radiographically defined in 5 of the 13 patients (38%) admitted. Only two patients, however, required blood transfusions. No patient required invasive management such as surgery or chest tube placement. The average length of the hospital stay was 1.5 days.


Complications after outpatient liver biopsy occur early and rarely require invasive management. Outpatient liver biopsy is safe when done on carefully selected patients in a setting that provides close observation for at least 3 hours after liver biopsy.

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