A Systematic Review of the Quality of Liver Biopsy Specimens

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Characteristics for an optimal liver biopsy specimen were recently defined as 20 to 25 mm long and/or containing more than 11 complete portal tracts (CPTs). A systematic review of percutaneous liver biopsy (PLB) and transjugular liver biopsy (TJLB) series yielded only 32 PLB studies in which these characteristics were evaluated: mean ± SD length, 17.7 ± 5.8 mm and number of CPTs, 7.5 ± 3.4; and 15 TJLB studies: mean ± SD length, 13.5 ± 4.5 mm and number of CPTs, 6.8 ± 2.3. Studies of sampling heterogeneity and intraobserver and interobserver variability also used inadequate specimens by present standards. Only 11 (5.3%) of 207 therapeutic studies for chronic hepatitis B and C documented length and/or number of CPTs. Of the current 12 studies evaluating noninvasive fibrosis tests, only 8 documented length or number of CPTs, and only 1 documented length and number of CPTs. New studies are needed based on adequate liver biopsy samples to provide reliable estimation of grading and staging in chronic liver disease.

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