Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Diagnosis of abdominal masses with percutaneous biopsy guided by ultrasound.

British Medical Journal 1990; 301 doi: (Published 24 November 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;301:1188
  1. H J Jaeger,
  2. J MacFie,
  3. C J Mitchell,
  4. N Couse,
  5. D Wai
  1. Scarborough Hospital, Yorkshire.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the accuracy and safety of percutaneous biopsy of abdominal masses guided by ultrasound. DESIGN--Prospective study. SETTING--Combined gastroenterology service, Scarborough Hospital. PATIENTS--108 Consecutive patients identified as having a discrete mass on diagnostic ultrasound examination of the abdomen. INTERVENTION--A sample of tissue was obtained with an aseptic technique under local anaesthesia: an 18 steel wire gauge needle (Tru-Cut) was mounted in a spring loaded firing device (Biopty gun) that was advanced under simultaneous ultrasound scanning, permitting precise localisation of the target organ. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Results of histological examination of tissue specimens. RESULTS--Biopsy failed in four patients. Adequate histological specimens were obtained in 104 patients with masses in the liver (31), pancreas (37), kidney (10), and adrenal glands (six) and in 20 undiagnosed abdominal and retroperitoneal masses. Follow up was until death or confirmation of the diagnosis. Three complications but no deaths occurred. Malignancy was suspected in 84 patients before biopsy. This was confirmed in 70 patients, in 26 of whom confirmation of dissemination obviated the need for further investigation. In 10 patients biopsy indicated a previously unsuspected primary tumour, and in 12 it showed only a benign lesion. Among 24 patients considered to have benign disease biopsy showed an unsuspected neoplasm in seven. Use of biopsy thus had a major effect on clinical management in 55 patients. Four false negative but no false positive diagnoses resulted from the procedure. CONCLUSION--Percutaneous biopsy of abdominal and retroperitoneal masses under ultrasound guidance is a safe and accurate method of obtaining a histological diagnosis. The results obtained have a considerable effect on clinical management.