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Background

: In view of the changing nature of transjugular liver biopsy, we performed an audit of the safety, adequacy and clinical impact of such biopsies in our centre over a 2-year period from 1995 to 1997.

Methods

: One hundred and fifty-seven transjugular biopsies were carried out in 145 patients, with prothrombin time >5 s over control and/or platelet count <50 × 109/L and/or gross ascites.

Results

: Major complications were two (1.3%) capsular perforations, which were easily plugged with coils without sequelae. Biopsy sample was adequate for histological diagnosis in 90%, inadequate in 6% and technically unsuccessful in 4% of cases. Mean biopsy size was 14.8 ± 7.7 (1–51) mm. Adequacy did not differ between cases with and without cirrhosis. Transjugular biopsy had a clinical impact (specific diagnosis or influence on patient’s management) in 50% of acute liver disease, 62% of chronic liver disease and 87% of transplant patients (< 0.001). In chronic liver disease, it had a significantly greater clinical impact in cases trying to establish the stage rather than diagnosis (84% vs. 35%, < 0.001).

Conclusions

: Transjugular liver biopsy is a safe procedure for high-risk patients providing an adequate liver sample even in cirrhosis. It has a clinical impact in more than 80% of transplant patients and for staging chronic liver disease, but in only 50% (acute) or 35% (chronic) of liver disease when a diagnosis is sought.