Safety and Effectiveness of Blind Percutaneous Liver Biopsy: Analysis of 1412 Procedures


Aleksandra Szymczak 1 , * , Aleksandra Szymczak 1 , * , Krzysztof Simon 2 , Krzysztof Simon 1 , Malgorzata Inglot 2 , Malgorzata Inglot 1 , Andrzej Gladysz 2 , Andrzej Gladysz 1

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Wroclaw Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland

2 Department of Infectious Diseases, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland

Corresponding Authors:

How to Cite: Szymczak A, Szymczak A, Simon K, Simon K, Inglot M, et al. Safety and Effectiveness of Blind Percutaneous Liver Biopsy: Analysis of 1412 Procedures, Hepat Mon. Online ahead of Print ; 12(1):32-37. doi: 10.5812/kowsar.1735143X.810.


Hepatitis Monthly: 12 (1); 32-37
Published Online: December 31, 2011
Article Type: Research Article
Received: September 22, 2011
Accepted: January 7, 2011


Background: Percutaneous liver biopsy is one of the most important and widely used methods for diagnosing chronic liver diseases; however, controversies related to the potential risk of complications and patient discomfort still exist.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and success rate of blind percutaneous liver biopsy.

Patients and Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 1412 blind percutaneous thick-needle liver biopsies performed during 1977-2000 at a single center on 1110 patients, using archived medical data of the center.

Results: The overall success rate of obtaining a liver sample with this method was 95.3%. Of all the samples assessed, 91.7% were determined to be fully representative for an evaluation by the pathologist. Complications occurred in 259 procedures (18.3%). While no fatalities associated with liver biopsy were noted, 9 serious complications (0.64%) directly related to biopsies were reported. Pain was the most common complication (15.3%). Significantly more complications (pain and vasovagal reactions) were reported in females (22.1%) than in males (16.1%) (P = 0.005). The rate of complications was significantly correlated with the stage of fibrosis (P = 0.027), i.e. the higher the fibrosis stage, the higher the complication rate. Previous surgical procedures involving the abdominal cavity or thorax influenced the effectiveness of liver biopsy (P = 0.017). Less operator experience was significantly associated with a higher rate of procedure failure (P = 0.002). Statistical significance of the relationship between individual operator efficiency and complication rate (P = 0.000) and that between individual operator efficiency and biopsy failure rate (P = 0.002) was observed.

Conclusions: Blind percutaneous liver biopsy is a safe and effective invasive procedure, despite the fact that noninvasive fibrosis assessment methods are currently widely available and used instead of histological evaluation. Complications risk and failure rate are low if indications and contraindications are considered carefully and the biopsy is performed by a skilled and experienced operator. Certain groups of patients may benefit from an image-guided procedure to improve its effectiveness.

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