liver biopsy

Last reviewed 01/2018

Biopsy of a hepatic lesion will provide a histological diagnosis.

The biopsy is performed with a Trucut needle under ultrasound or CT guidance.

The following criteria should be met before a patient undergoes a liver biopsy:

  • the prothrombin time should not exceed the control by more than 3 seconds
  • the platelet count should exceed 100x10^9/l
  • there should be no biliary dilatation or major ascites
  • the patient should be able to hold his or her breath for longer than 20 seconds
  • the patient should give informed consent

Complications include:

  • mortality is a very rare complication (0.17%)
  • haemorrhage (about 0.5%)
  • biliary peritonitis - more common in patients with extrahepatic bile duct obstruction
  • bacteraemia occurs in about 15% of cases