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Abstract

Background:

Liver resection is increasingly being performed for metastatic colorectal cancer. This study assessed the need for preoperative biopsy of suspected metastases and whether biopsy has any effect on long-term survival.

Methods:

Prospectively collected data on patients who underwent liver resection for colorectal metastases between 1986 and 2003 were reviewed retrospectively. The endpoints of morbidity, operative mortality and long-term survival were compared between patients who had biopsy before referral (group 1) and those who did not (group 2).

Results:

Patient demographics and disease distribution were similar for 90 patients in group 1 and 508 in group 2. Seventeen patients (19 per cent) who had undergone biopsy either at the time of colorectal resection or radiologically had evidence of needle-track deposits. Operative mortality and morbidity rates in the two groups were similar. The 4-year survival rate after liver resection was 32·5 (s.e. 5·5) per cent in group 1, compared with 46·7 (2·8) per cent in group 2 (P = 0·008).

Conclusion:

Needle-track deposits are common after biopsy of suspected colorectal liver metastases. Biopsy of metastases confers poorer long-term survival on patients after liver resection and cannot be justified in patients with potentially resectable disease. Copyright © 2005 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.