Preoperative donor liver biopsy for adult living donor liver transplantation: Risks and benefits



The role of liver biopsy (LB) in donor selection for adult living donor liver transplantation remains controversial, since the procedure is associated with additional potential risks for the donor. From April 1998 to August 2004, 730 potential living donors for 337 adult recipients underwent our multistep evaluation program. In 144 candidates, LB was performed. LB was obtained in a percutaneous ultrasound-guided fashion by means of Menghini needle (32 cases) or Tru-cut needle (112 cases). The biopsy specimen was preserved in 5% formalin and processed with hematoxylin & eosin–stained sections. Thirty-one (21%) of 144 candidates who underwent an LB had a positive finding at histological examination that induced their exclusion from donation, of whom 21 had liver steatosis of varying kind and grade (10%-80%) and 10 had a nonsteatotic hepatopathy (non–A-D hepatitis in 6 cases, diffuse granulomatosis in 2, schistosomiasis in 1, fibrosis in 1). The only observed major complications related to LB were 2 intraparenchymal haematomas, both of which resolved spontaneously within a few months. In conclusion, based on these findings, we believe that preoperative LB in the donor selection for adult LDLT is necessary, once the initial donor screening and noninvasive evaluation is complete. Because other screening modalities can be unreliable, without preoperative LB a fraction of potential donors will be operated on inappropriately, risking both donor and recipient. The main objective of LB should be to ensure the donor's safety more than the preservation of the graft function. (Liver Transpl 2005;11:980–986.)