Liver biopsy risk in children

A recent retrospective study from Oslo looks at risk factors and safety of liver biopsy (JPGN 55: 82-87).

Among 190 patients who underwent 275 ultrasound-guided liver biopsies (interventional radiology), there were four major complications –two were due to post-biopsy bleeding, one was due to variceal bleeding within 12 hours, and one was due to the development of pain/acidosis, and tachycardia.  28 patients had minor bleeding.   There were no mortalities, though one patient dropped hemoglobin in half (11.6 to 5.3).

In their patient population, the following had increased risk for major complications:

  • Focal space-occupying lesion/tumor (n=25) OR 2.84  for all bleeding risk; patients with these lesions typically had more biopsy passes (average 4.9)
  • Acute liver failure (n=12) OR 26.1 for major complication risk
  • Low-molecular weight heparin therapy (n=18)  OR 2.43 for all bleeding risk

Not identified as risk factors for complications in this cohort:

  • Low platelet count (<70 [n=14])or coagulopathy (INR>1.7 [n=18]),  –all received blood products before biopsy
  • Aspirin treatment (often used in transplant population to prevent hepatic artery thrombosis) (n=55)  OR 0.96
  • Liver transplant patients (n=97) -odds ratio was lower than entire cohort (OR 0.52)

Additional references:

  • -JPGN 2011; 53: 202. Good safety results with IR liver biopsy, n=249. 2/249 had drop in Hgb of 2g -no transfusions needed, no mortalities.
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2010; 8: 877. 0.5% complication rate, n=2740. No deaths. Bleeding was most common risk –increased with advanced liver disease.
  • -Hepatology 2009; 49: 1017. AASLD Position Paper
  • -Gastroenterol 1978; 74: 101 & 103. Early article discussing safety of LBx and that most pts could be d/c’d w/in 6 hours.
  • -JPGN 2005; 41: 639. Safety of liver biopsy in infants less than 3 months (w/o U/S). complication rate was 18% including sedation-related, 1 bile leak, and 3 needed PRBCs.
  • -JPGN 2003; 36: 364. Ultrasound useful.
  • -Can J Gastroenterol 2000; 14: 543-548.  Mortality rate 3/10,000
  • -Clin Perspectives Gastroenterol 2002; 5: 117. Rec ultrasound, plts >75K, PT c/in 3 secs of normal; observation for 3-6hrs in adults.
  • -NEJM 2001; 344: 495. Liver bx review.
  • -Hepatol 27: 1220-26, 1998. U/S marking reduces complications
  • -Fox VL, Cohen MB, Whitington PF, Colletti RB. Outpatient liver biopsy in children (n=450). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1996;23:213-6.  High mortality rate reported, primarily in bone marrow transplant patients
  • -JPGN 2000; 31: 536-39. Safety of liver biopsy in children, n=249.