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Outpatient Liver Biopsy: How Safe Is It?

Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, MD; and James L. Boyer, MD
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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510. Requests for Reprints: James L. Boyer, MD, Department of Medicine and Liver Center, Digestive Diseases Section, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, 1080 LMP, New Haven, CT 06510-8056.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1993;118(2):150-153. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-118-2-199301150-00013
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Percutaneous liver biopsy is being done more frequently as a result of major changes in the therapy of liver diseases.The ease and safety of outpatient, “blind” liver biopsy has been well established. Complication rates have ranged from 0.9% to 3.7%; most complications have become manifest within the first 3 hours after biopsy, and none has resulted in death. Nevertheless, differing guidelines may affect relative degrees of safety in different Centers. A review of reported series suggests that the Menghini technique may be the preferred first choice, with the Tru-Cut technique reserved for patients in whom an adequate sample cannot be obtained. The requirement of a normal bleeding time appears to decrease the incidence of hemorrhagic complications. The decision to use outpatient biopsy must be based on a careful assessment of the risks and benefits for each individual patient.

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