About a week ago I posted a note concerning virtual colonoscopy techniques and my concern about diminishing numbers of colon biopsies potentially. A comment to that post made the point of potentially fewer normal biopsies but more atypical ones or positive (vis-a-vis) malignant biopsies.
A valid point and one to watch as these technologies gain use clinically.
Aside from reading GI biopsies I also spend my days reading liver biopsies – a large number of liver biopsies are done to assess "stage" or degree of fibrosis of known chronic liver disease (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, steatohepatitis, autoimmune, etc). Of course liver biopsy requires an invasive technique and investigators have for years been pursuing other modalities, namely through serum chemistries and non-invasive imaging to try to find other markers for assessing degree of liver fibrosis.
In the past none have been found to be as sensitive or specific as biopsy but some of my clinical colleagues here at Mayo have reported their experience with magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) and how far this technique can go to determine stage of chronic liver disease.
Below is a link for the Mayo Clinic news blog with the story.