Complications of percutaneous liver biopsy with Klatskin needles: a 36-year single-centre experience

V. Takyar, O. Etzion, T. Heller, D. E. Kleiner, Y. Rotman, M. G. Ghany, N. Fryzek, V. H. Williams, E. Rivera, S. Auh, T. J. Liang, J. H. Hoofnagle, C. Koh

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21 Scopus citations


Background: Liver biopsy is the gold standard in evaluating liver diseases but is susceptible to complications. Safety data on aspiration needle biopsies remain limited. Aim: To evaluate the safety of percutaneous liver biopsy performed with Klatskin needle. Methods: Clinical and biochemical data were retrospectively retrieved from sequential subjects who underwent liver biopsy with Klatskin needle from 1978 to 2015. Subjects with complications underwent thorough chart reviews for hospital course. Results: Of 3357 biopsies performed, complications occurred in 135 (4%) biopsies with 33 (1%) resulting in major complications. Severe pain occurred in 78 (2.3%) subjects and bleeding occurred in 21 (0.6%) subjects. Biliary injury occurred in 8 (0.2%) biopsies. Three subjects died as a result of massive intraperitoneal bleeding. Compared to viral hepatitis, biopsies performed with certain diagnosis had significantly higher odds of major complications: NRH (OR: 17), DILI (OR: 20), GVHD (OR: 32) and HCC (OR: 34). Subjects with major complications had higher pre-biopsy median AP (153 vs. 78 U/L, P < 0.001), ALT (105 vs. 64 U/L, P < 0.05), AST (62 vs. 47 U/L, P < 0.02), along with marginally lower total bilirubin (1.0 vs. 0.7 mg/dL, P < 0.01) and albumin (3.7 vs. 4.0 g/dL, P < 0.001). By multivariate backward logistic regression, platelets ≤100 K/μL and aPTT >35 were independent risk factors of post-biopsy bleeding. Conclusion: Klatskin needle liver biopsies are safe with rare procedural morbidity. Our data suggests certain acutely ill subjects and those with systemic illnesses may be at higher risk of major complications. Clinicians should weigh the risks and benefits of liver biopsy in these patients with other alternative approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-753
Number of pages10
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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