Background: We studied whether the theoretical advantages of a spring-loaded liver biopsy needle exist in clinical practice and if so if they are dependent upon the experience of the physician performing the biopsy.
Methods: In a stratified randomised study we enrolled 215 consecutive patients to compare the safety and efficacy of a new automatic biopsy gun (Acecut) with that of a standard Tru-Cut needle.
Results: A total of 464 biopsies were performed. The endpoints of the study were number of needle passes needed per patient, tissue yield of each needle pass and post-biopsy complications. The performance of the automatic needle was superior and more consistent with respect to tissue yield compared with the Tru-Cut needle (median yield 100% and 80%, respectively; p<0.001). The difference was most marked for inexperienced physicians. There was no difference between the two needles in the number of passes needed. More post-biopsy pain and post-biopsy use of analgesics were observed in the automatic needle group (p=0.04).
Conclusion: The automatic Tru-Cut needle offers an advantage, particularly for physicians with no or limited experience in liver biopsies. However more post-biopsy pain and postbiopsy use of analgesics were observed in the automatic needle group.