, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 959-961
Date: 09 Jun 2009

Is juvenile liver biopsy unsafe? Putting an end to a common misapprehension

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Percutaneous needle biopsy of the liver is the most common procedure used in clinical hepatology for histopathological examination and assessment of liver disease, and remains the cornerstone in the evaluation and management of parenchymal liver diseases. Liver biopsy is generally regarded as a safe procedure, but mortality rates up to 1:10,000 have been reported. In 2003, our group showed that routine use of US as a guide to liver biopsy reduces the rate of complications and provides a higher diagnostic yield.


To report our experience of US-guided liver biopsy in children.

Materials and methods

We retrospectively reviewed all 421 liver biopsies performed in our department from October 2003 to December 2008. All samples had been obtained by the US-guided technique. All patients had a liver US examination performed prior to the procedure by the same radiologist performing the biopsy.


US guidance allowed constant visualization of the needle leading to appropriate tissue sampling in all 421 children (including 221 obese children), and in 79% of children with only one pass. Pain in the right upper quadrant after liver biopsy was experienced by 36% of patients.


US-guided percutaneous biopsy of the liver in children, performed in a specialized tertiary care paediatric centre by experienced and skilled physicians, can be considered safe and effective.