Liver - Biopsy

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What is a liver biopsy?

Most often, diseases of the liver can be diagnosed by history, physical examination, and blood tests. On occasion, should the diagnosis be unclear, a liver biopsy may be necessary.

Using a very thin needle, a gastroenterologist or hepatologist (two types of liver specialists) or an interventional radiologist will insert a very fine needle through the skin and into the liver, to retrieve a small bit of tissue. This can then be examined under the microscope by a pathologist to help make the diagnosis. This procedure is done under sterile conditions to prevent infection, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to decrease the potential for pain.

If there is concern about only one area of the liver, instead of a disease that would affect the whole organ, an ultrasound may be used to help guide the needle into the proper position.

Return to Liver (Anatomy and Function)

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