Objective: The aim of this study was to determine patient factors that predict diagnostic failure or increased risk of bleeding complications following percutaneous liver biopsy in children.
Methods: A retrospective review of all children undergoing percutaneous liver biopsy at a single institution between July 2008 and July 2011 was performed. Demographics, comorbid conditions, preprocedural diagnoses/indications, procedural details, laboratory data, pathologic diagnosis, and complications were recorded. Continuous data were analyzed by Wilcoxon test and categorical data by Fisher exact test to determine statistical significance.
Results: Two hundred thirteen children (104 girls) with a median age of 7 years (range 1 week–22 years) underwent 328 percutaneous liver biopsies. Nine (4.2%) experienced a decrease in hemoglobin >2 g/dL, 7 required transfusion (3.3%), and 1 patient died (0.5%). Younger age (1.8 vs 84 months, P = 0.05) and lower preprocedural hematocrit (29.3 vs 34.3, P = 0.05) predicted bleeding complications, whereas the number of biopsies, comorbid conditions, and coagulopathy did not. Sixty-three (19.2%) biopsies were insufficient for definitive histologic evaluation on initial biopsy in 57 patients. Twenty-one of 57 patients (37%) underwent repeat percutaneous biopsy and 3 of 57 (8%) underwent surgical biopsy. Biopsy provided definitive diagnosis in 86% of cases when repeat biopsy was performed. Shorter specimen length (1.4 vs 1.7 cm, P < 0.01) and biopsies performed for unexplained elevation of liver function tests (34.9% vs 16.7%, P < 0.01) were predictive of nondiagnosis.
Conclusions: Percutaneous liver biopsy is safe with a low rate of bleeding-related complications. Ensuring adequate sample length and careful patient selection may further increase the diagnostic yield.