What are the important functions of the liver?
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ that performs multiple body functions.
The liver synthesizes the body's
It also helps in the digestion process by producing enzymes. Because of the importance of the liver and its functions, it can regrow rapidly as long as it is kept healthy.
What can a liver biopsy diagnose?
A liver biopsy is a procedure that involves inserting a small needle into the liver to collect a tissue sample. The tissue is then analyzed in a lab to help the doctors diagnose a variety of disorders and diseases of the liver. A liver biopsy is usually performed to help identify the cause of liver ailments such as:
- Persistent abnormal liver blood tests (liver enzymes)
- Unexplained yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- A liver abnormality found on ultrasound, computed tomography scan, or nuclear scan
- Unexplained enlargement of the liver
- Monitor the liver after a liver transplant
- Ongoing, unexplained fevers
A liver biopsy can also be used to estimate the degree of liver damage, grade and stage of hepatitis B and C, and determine the best treatment for the damage or disease.
How is a liver biopsy done?
There are several steps to a liver biopsy procedure:
- Liver biopsy is usually done under local anesthesia.
- The patient is asked to lie on their back, with their right elbow out to the side and right hand under the head. It is important that the patient remain as still as possible during the procedure.
- An ultrasound is used to mark the location of the liver.
- The doctor will clean an area on the upper abdomen, then make a small incision and insert a needle into this incision to take a small sample of liver tissue for analysis.
What are the other methods of liver biopsy?
Two other methods of liver biopsy include:
- Laparoscopic biopsy: During a laparoscopic biopsy, a laparoscope (a thin lighted tube with a camera attached) is inserted through an incision in the abdomen. The laparoscope sends images of the liver to a monitor that the doctor watches while using instruments to remove tissue samples from one or more parts of the liver. This type of biopsy may be used when tissue samples are needed from specific parts of the liver.
- Transverse biopsy: Transvenous biopsy may be done when patients have blood-clotting problems or fluid in the abdomen. The physician inserts a tube called a catheter into a vein in the neck and guides it to the liver. A biopsy needle is placed into the catheter and then into the liver to obtain a sample.
How painful is a liver biopsy?
Pain is the most common symptom observed after liver biopsy. It is usually experienced as a mild discomfort. Some patients may need narcotic pain medication, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) with codeine.
What are the common complications of liver biopsy?
In most cases there are no complications from having a liver biopsy. A few individuals may experience:
Top What Can a Liver Biopsy Diagnose Related Articles
Cirrhosis (Liver)Cirrhosis of the liver refers to a disease in which normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and C. This disease leads to abnormalities in the liver's ability to handle toxins and blood flow, causing internal bleeding, kidney failure, mental confusion, coma, body fluid accumulation, and frequent infections.
Symptoms include yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and fatigue.
The prognosis is good for some people with cirrhosis of the liver, and the survival can be up to 12 years; however the life expectancy is about 6 months to 2 years for people with severe cirrhosis with major complications.
Does Liver Cancer Spread Quickly?Liver cancer can spread quickly depending on the type of cancer. Hemangiosarcoma and angiosarcoma types of liver cancer are fast spreading, whereas hepatocellular carcinoma spreads late in the disease.
Drug-Induced Liver DiseaseDrug-induced liver diseases are diseases of the liver that are caused by physician-prescribed medications, OTC medications, vitamins, hormones, herbs, illicit (recreational) drugs, and environmental toxins. Read about the signs and symptoms of drug-induced liver disease like hepatitis (inflammation of the liver cells), liver disease treatment, and types.
Nonalcoholic and Alcoholic Fatty Liver DiseaseYou can treat fatty liver disease with diet and exercise. Learn the signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease, whether it is alcoholic or nonalcoholic in origin. Find out what causes fatty liver disease, along with remedies and prevention tips.
Liver QuizDo you know the symptoms of liver disease? What is hepatitis? Take this quiz to learn about your liver and how to keep it healthy.
Hepatitis B PictureInflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis B virus (HBV), once thought to be passed only through blood products. See a picture of Hepatitis B and learn more about the health topic.
14 Best and Worst Foods for Your LiverGet some simple diet tips to keep your liver healthy, including the best veggies to keep disease away and some snacks you'll want to avoid.
Hepatitis C, Hep B, Hep A: Symptoms, Causes, TreatmentHepatitis C, B, and A are viruses that cause liver inflammation. Hepatitis B vaccines and hepatitis A vaccines are available. Hepatitis symptoms may not appear for weeks to months after infection. Hepatitis A transmission occurs most often via contaminated food. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C transmission require contact with infected bodily fluids or blood.
Liver Damage CausesAlcohol and acetaminophen are well-known liver dangers, but what else can be harmful? WebMD says some of them may surprise you.
How Long Can You Live With Liver Cancer?The overall survival rate of liver cancer patients is low, due to other underlying medical conditions, such as cirrhosis. Generally, a five-year survival rate for all stages of liver cancer is only 15%, but it can vary depending on the extent of cancer spread.
Liver (Anatomy and Function)The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body. There are a variety of liver diseases caused by liver inflammation, scarring of the liver, infection of the liver, gallstones, cancer, toxins, genetic diseases, and blood flow problems. Symptoms of liver disease generally do not occur until the liver disease is advanced. Some symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, easy bruising, bleeding excessively, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, leg swelling, impotence, and confusion. Treatment of diseases of the liver depends on the cause.
Liver BiopsyLiver biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small piece of liver tissue for examination for signs of disease or damage to the liver. Preparation for liver biopsy includes discontinuing certain medications. The techniques used to perform liver biopsy include percutaneous liver biopsy, transvenous liver biopsy, and laparoscopic liver biopsy. Recovery from liver biopsy are generally one to two days. Certain risks are associated with liver biopsy.
Liver Blood TestsAn initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases, for example, gallstones, high cholesterol or triglycerides, blood flow obstruction to the liver, and toxins (medications and chemicals). Symptoms of liver disease depends upon the cause and may include nausea, vomiting, upper right abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment depends upon the cause of the liver disease.
Liver Disease QuizWhat is liver disease? Take the Liver Disease Quiz and test your knowledge about this organ and its function.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) of the LiverRadiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the liver is a technique used to treat liver cancer. RFA uses imagine procedures like CT scan, ultrasound, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to guide the RFA probe into the area of the tumor. There are different ways to perform radiofrequency ablation. Side effects of radiofrequency ablation of the liver are pain after the procedure, injury to the bowel, and inflammation of the gallbladder. The procedure lasts approximately 10-30 minutes.
Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G)
Hepatitis is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E, F (not confirmed), and G) or another virus (such as those that cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus disease). The main nonviral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs. Many patients infected with hepatitis A, B, and C have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, tiredness, and aching in the abdomen. Treatment of viral hepatitis is dependent on the type of hepatitis.