Obesity Surgery

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 313–318 | Cite as

Safety and Utility of Liver Biopsy During Bariatric Surgery in the New Zealand Setting

  • Hannah CollinsEmail author
  • Grant Beban
  • John Windsor
  • Rishi Ram
  • David Orr
  • Nicholas Evennett
  • Benjamin Loveday
Original Contribution



Asymptomatic liver disease is common in bariatric patients and can be diagnosed with intraoperative biopsy. This study aimed to establish the risk-benefit profile of routine liver biopsy, prevalence of clinically significant liver disease, relationship between liver pathology and body mass index, and compare outcomes between ethnic groups.


This retrospective cohort study included all patients who had index bariatric surgery at Auckland City Hospital between 2009 and 2016. Diagnosis of liver disease was based on intraoperative biopsy histology. Outcomes included safety (biopsy-related complication) and utility (liver pathology meeting criteria for referral). Liver pathology and referral rates were compared between ethnic groups.


Of 335 bariatric surgery patients, 234 (70%) underwent intraoperative liver biopsy. There were no biopsy-related complications. Histological findings were as follows: normal 25/234 (11%), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) 207/234 (88%), and other pathological findings in 35/234 (15%). Histological finding meeting referral criteria was present in 22/234 (9%). Of these, 12/22 (55%) were referred. Number needed to biopsy to identify histology meeting referral criteria: n = 11. Māori had a similar NAFLD rate to non-Māori [51/56 versus 156/178, p = 0.48]. Pasifika patients had a higher rate than non-Pasifika [39/40 versus 168/194, p = 0.049]. Māori and Pasifika patients had similar referral rates to non-Māori and non-Pasifika [2/3 versus 5/9, p = 0.73; 2/2 versus 5/10, p = 0.19].


Intraoperative liver biopsy during bariatric surgery is safe and identified liver disease in 89%, with 9% meeting referral criteria. Pasifika patients have a higher rate of NAFLD than non-Pasifika.


Bariatric surgery Liver biopsy Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Hepatology 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.

Ethics approval from Central Health and Disability Ethics Committee, Ministry of Health, Wellington, New Zealand. Ethics ref. 17/CEN/127.

Consent Statement

This was a retrospective study where no identifying data was collected. All data was collected in a de-identified database by a single investigator. Informed consent was not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auckland City HospitalAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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