[Skip to Navigation]
August 1977

Fever of Unknown Origin: Assessment of the Value of Percutaneous Liver Biopsy

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the Veterans Administration Hospital, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Intern Med. 1977;137(8):1001-1004. doi:10.1001/archinte.1977.03630200011007

This study was done to assess the value of percutaneous liver biopsy in the diagnosis of fever of unknown origin (FUO). We performed a retrospective analysis of all cases (43) seen at Vanderbilt University Hospital in the last 12 years in which a percutaneous liver biopsy was performed in the course of the evaluation or presence of FUO. The 43 patients who underwent biopsy were assigned to three arbitrary groups: group 1, liver biopsy abnormal and helpful in diagnosis and often in therapy; group 2, liver biopsy abnormal but of no definite diagnostic and therapeutic value; group 3, liver biopsy normal or essentially normal. Distribution of the 43 patients in these categories was as follows: group 1, six individuals (13.9%); group 2,11 patients (25.6%), and group 3, 26 patients (60.5%). Group 1 patients had hepatomegaly three times as often (P <.05) and abnormal liver function tests 25% more commonly (P >.05) than the other two combined groups, but the overlap was substantial in both parameters. We conclude that percutaneous liver biopsy may be helpful in a positive manner in the diagnosis of FUO but only in a very small number of cases; that a surprisingly large number of patients with FUO are undiagnosed, but the overall prognosis is relatively good; and that in view of newly available diagnostic techniques and the small fraction of all cases of FUO that undergo biopsy, a prospective evaluation of the role of percutaneous liver biopsy in the diagnosis of FUO using a larger number of cases is warranted.

(Arch Intern Med 137:1001-1004, 1977)

Add or change institution