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Routine Ultrasound-Guided Liver Biopsy: A Time Whose Idea Has Come?

Malnick, Stephen MA(Oxon), MSc, MBBS(Lond)*; Melzer, Ehud MD

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: November-December 2005 - Volume 39 - Issue 10 - p 900-903
doi: 10.1097/01.mcg.0000180803.49328.a7
Liver, Pancreas, and Biliary Tract: Clinical Review

Percutaneous liver biopsy is a commonly performed procedure in modern hepatology. Although it is a safe procedure and performed in most cases on an outpatient basis, complications including mortality have been reported. It is widely perceived that the use of ultrasound guiding for the biopsy produces a decrease in complications and is safer. There is now a trend for more centers to adopt a policy of ultrasound-guided biopsies only. There are, however, no official guidelines that recommend such a policy. This trend for ultrasound guidance of invasive procedures is also becoming apparent in other areas such as the insertion of a central venous line in children. The literature in support of such a position is far from conclusive. Because there are medicolegal and economic implications for the policy of routine ultrasound guiding of biopsies, we suggest that there is a need for the major professional organizations to make a clear declaration on this issue.

From the *Department of Internal Medicine C and †Gastroenterology Institute, Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Israel.

Reprints: Stephen Malnick, Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot 76100, Israel (e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.