Major changes in the number and indications of liver biopsy for chronic liver diseases over one decade in France

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French clinical practice guidelines on the use of liver biopsy (LB) published in 2002 focused on ultrasound guidance (USG) and ambulatory LB. The aims of this study were as follows: (i) to evaluate the number and indications for LB for chronic liver diseases and (ii) to evaluate LB modalities according to French clinical practice guidelines. Data recorded included the number and indications for LB, procedures, use of USG, and complications.


A total of 131 centers participated: 8741 LB were performed versus 12 000 in 1997; ambulatory LB was performed in 48.6% of cases (vs. 27% in 1997; P<0.001). USG during LB was used in 89.7% of the centers, among which 42 (31.8%) used real-time USG (vs. 56 and 22%, respectively, in 1997; P<0.01). The main indications for LB were chronic hepatitis C in 24.6% of cases (vs. 54.1% in 1997; P<0.001), and viral B or B-delta in 15.0% (vs. 5.8%; P<0.001). Severe complications were less frequent at centers with systematical USG during LB than at those without such guidance (P<0.01).


In this large nationwide study, major trends were as follows: (i) a marked decrease in LB number, related to a decrease in LB for chronic viral hepatitis C; (ii) increased use of USG; and (iii) an increase in the number of ambulatory LB. Severe complications decreased significantly at centers in which USG was systematically applied.

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