A needle biopsy (or punch biopsy) removes a slender core of tissue, as seen in the inset. In this specimen, cirrhosis is indicated by the presence of extensive masses and strands of connective tissue, which in turn suggests a history of chronic liver damage. (Cirrhosis is a non-specific descriptive term, equivalent to "sclerosis", "fibrosis", or simply "scarring".)
A biopsy specimen represents a very small sample of an organ and must thus be interpreted with care to avoid mistaking an unusual sample for a pathological condition.
For more informative images of cirrhosis, see WebPath or Milikowski & Berman's Color Atlas of Basic Histopathology, pp. 284ff.
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Last updated: 25 January 2002 / dgk