Sampling variability of liver biopsy was determined in three consecutive biopsy specimens obtained from each of 118 patients immediately prior to autopsy. No sampling variability was found for fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, nonspecific hepatitis, fulminant hepatitis, leukemic infiltrate, and venous congestion. Cirrhosis was diagnosed in 80% of cases at the first biopsy but in all cases after three biopsies. Chronic aggressive and chronic persistent hepatitis were diagnosed correctly in two of three cases each at the first biopsy, and in all cases after three biopsies. Metastatic carcinoma was detected in 46% of cases at the first biopsy and in 69% after three biopsies. Granulomas were missed once on the first biopsy, but found on a subsequent biopsy. The amounts of fat and fibrosis in the biopsy specimens often were not representative of the amounts present at autopsy.
(Arch Intern Med 139:667-669, 1979)