The value of preoperative liver biopsy in the diagnosis of extrahepatic biliary atresia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Pediatr Surg. 2016 May;51(5):753-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2016.02.016. Epub 2016 Feb 13.


Background: In extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA) obstruction of the biliary tree causes severe cholestasis leading to cirrhosis and death if left untreated in a timely manner. Infants with cholestasis may undergo many tests before EHBA diagnosis is reached. The role and place of preoperative liver biopsy in the diagnostic paradigm for EHBA have not been established.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL to obtain all publications describing the sensitivity/specificity/accuracy/positive predictive value (PPV)/negative predictive value (NPV) of preoperative liver biopsy in infants with cholestasis. Screening, data extraction, and quality assessment were done in duplicate. Extracted data are described narratively and analyzed using forest plots and receiver operating characteristic curves.

Results: A total of 22 articles were included. Overall, the pooled accuracy of preoperative liver biopsy was 91.7%, with a sensitivity of 91.2%, specificity of 93.0% (n=1231), PPV of 91.2%, NPV of 92.5% (n=1182), and accuracy of 91.6% (n=1106). In patients who were 60days or less at time of presentation or diagnosis, the pooled sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, and accuracy were 96.4%, 96.3%, 95.8%, 96.3%, and 94.9%, respectively.

Conclusion: Quantitative analysis demonstrated preoperative biopsy to be both highly specific and sensitive in diagnosing EHBA preoperatively. It is a highly reliable test that offers a means of arriving at an early definitive diagnosis of EHBA.

Keywords: Biliary atresia; Preoperative liver biopsy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Atresia / diagnosis*
  • Biliary Atresia / pathology*
  • Biliary Atresia / surgery
  • Biopsy
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Preoperative Care*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity