Objective: To determine the safety of outpatient liver biopsies by analyzing the outcome of patients hospitalized for complications.
Design: Retrospective review.
Setting: Large clinic referral center.
Patients: All patients admitted after outpatient liver biopsy at the Mayo Clinic from 1 April 1989 to 1 April 1991.
Results: During this period, 405 outpatients underwent biopsy. Of the 405 patients, 13 (3.2%) were admitted with complications after biopsy. Five patients (38%) were admitted with persistent localized pain, five (38%) with orthostatic hypotension, one (8%) with both pain and hypotension, one (8%) with peritoneal signs, and one (8%) with lightheadedness but no orthostatic changes. All complications were noted within 3 hours after the biopsy. Bleeding, potentially the most serious complication, was radiographically defined in 5 of the 13 patients (38%) admitted. Only two patients, however, required blood transfusions. No patient required invasive management such as surgery or chest tube placement. The average length of the hospital stay was 1.5 days.
Conclusion: Complications after outpatient liver biopsy occur early and rarely require invasive management. Outpatient liver biopsy is safe when done on carefully selected patients in a setting that provides close observation for at least 3 hours after liver biopsy.