The diagnosis of liver disease depends primarily on an adequate history and a physical examination. These should indicate the correct diagnosis in two thirds of the cases; the addition of liverfunction tests assists in the differentiation of hepatic disease. However, there remains a group of patients in whom a precise diagnosis is not made by means of history, physical examination, or so-called liver-function tests. In these, morphologic examination of hepatic tissue may confirm a clinical diagnosis or change a clinical impression, although liver biopsy can also be disappointing as a diagnostic test.
Percutaneous hepatic biopsy has gained wide acceptance since its reintroduction by Iverson and Roholm in 1939.1 With the careful selection of patients and the critical use of the procedure, it is simple, safe, and reasonably accurate.
When liver biopsy is indicated and no contraindications exist, the nature of the procedure should be carefully explained to the patient,