Liver biopsy sampling in chronic viral hepatitis

Semin Liver Dis. 2004 Feb;24(1):89-97. doi: 10.1055/s-2004-823103.


In chronic viral hepatitis, liver biopsy is performed to grade and stage liver damage. Liver biopsy samples are usually taken with a needle using a percutaneous procedure. This method produces a core of tissue representing approximately 1/50,000th of the liver mass, which raises concern about how representative a needle biopsy can be. A critical review of the literature reveals methodological limits unacceptable in this era of evidence-based medicine. Integrating earlier experience with more recently produced data indicates that a biopsy sample 2 cm or more in length containing at least 11 complete portal tracts should be reliable for grading and staging chronic viral hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / pathology*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*