Transjugular liver biopsy

John H. Mcafee, Emmet B. Keeffe, Randall G. Lee, Josef Rosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

124 Scopus citations


Although transjugular liver biopsy requires the availability of trained personnel, takes more time than percutaneous biopsy and is moderately expensive, it is a safe alternative technique for obtaining adequate liver tissue for diagnosis in special clinical situations. The usual indications for transjugular rather than percutaneous liver biopsy are (a) coagulation disorder (prothrombin time > 3 sec over control value and/or platelet count <60,000/cm3), (b) massive ascites and (c) desire to perform ancillary procedures, such as measurement of pressures or opacification of the hepatic veins and inferior vena cava. Less common indications for transjugular liver biopsy include failed percutaneous biopsy, massive obesity, small cirrhotic liver (increased risk and lower success rate) and suspected vascular tumor or peliosis hepatis. Results from several centers indicate that adequate or diagnostic liver tissue is obtained in 81% to 97% of cases. The typical length of the biopsy core ranges from 0.3 cm to 2.0 cm. Modification of the classic technique, particularly the adaptation of a Tru-Cut needle, shows promise in yielding longer cores of tissue with less fragmentation. Transjugular liver biopsy is performed with an acceptable complication rate that ranges 0% to 20%. The reported mortality of transjugular liver biopsy was 0 in three major centers and ranged from 0.1% to 0.5% in three other centers. Transjugular liver biopsy may be useful in obtaining diagnostic liver tissue not only in advanced chronic liver disease with coagulopathy, ascites or both, but also in patients with fulminant hepatic failure to better determine prognosis and the need for liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-732
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology

Cite this

Mcafee, J. H., Keeffe, E. B., Lee, R. G., & Rosch, J. (1992). Transjugular liver biopsy. Hepatology, 15(4), 726-732.