What is a Liver Biopsy?
A liver biopsy is a procedure in which a small needle is inserted into the
liver to collect a tissue sample. The tissue is then analyzed in a laboratory to
help doctors diagnose a variety of disorders and
diseases in the liver. A liver
biopsy is most often performed to help identify the cause of:
Is Liver Biopsy Safe?
In most instances, there are no complications in obtaining a liver biopsy. However, rarely internal bleeding may occur, as well as a leak of bile from the liver or gallbladder.
How Do I Prepare for a Liver Biopsy?
When preparing for a liver biopsy, there are several things to keep in mind.
- Tell your doctor if you're
pregnant, have a lung or heart condition, are
allergic to any medications, or have bleeding problems.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking blood-thinning medications such as
Persantine. Your doctor may prescribe an alternate method
for thinning your blood before the procedure.
- For the week before the procedure, do not take aspirin, products containing
anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Naprosyn,
or Indocin) unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your primary
or referring doctor.
What Happens on the Day of a Liver Biopsy?
Laboratory tests will be performed on the day of a liver biopsy or 2-3 days
before the procedure, as directed by your doctor. These tests may include a
blood count, a platelet count, and a measurement of your blood's ability to
Before the procedure:
- A doctor will explain the biopsy procedure in detail, including possible
complications and answer any questions you may have.
During the procedure:
- You will be asked to wear a hospital gown.
- You will lie on your back, with your right elbow out to the side and your
right hand under your head. It is important that you remain as still as possible
during the procedure.
- An ultrasound may be used to mark the location of your liver.
- You may receive a small dose of a sedative just prior to the procedure.
- The doctor cleans and numbs an area on your upper abdomen with a local
anesthetic (pain-relieving medication). The doctor then makes a small incision
on your upper abdomen and inserts a needle into this incision to take a small
sample of liver tissue for analysis.
- The procedure takes about 5 minutes.
After the procedure:
- You will stay in a recovery room for up to 4 hours for observation.
- You may feel minor discomfort or a dull pain in your shoulders or back. If
necessary, a pain medication will be prescribed for you.
- Do not drive or operate machinery for at least eight hours after the
- Avoid taking aspirin, products containing aspirin, or anti-inflammatory
drugs (such as ibuprofen, Advil, Naprosyn, Indocin, or Motrin) for one week
after the procedure. You may take
acetaminophen (Tylenol) if needed.
- Do not perform vigorous physical activity for at least 24 hours after the
- Your doctor will discuss the biopsy results with you several days after the
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