Biopsies of the liver are usually done to evaluate:
If you are planning to have a liver biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Before your biopsy:
If local anesthesia is used, then only the area that is being operated on is numbed. It is given as an injection and may also be given with a sedative
There are different techniques used to do a liver biopsy, including:
You will lie on your back with your right hand behind your head. An ultrasound or CT scan may be used to help guide the placement of the needle. The skin will be cleaned. Next, medication will be injected to numb the area. A small incision will be made. You will need to exhale and hold your breath while the needle is inserted. Sometimes, the needle will need to be inserted several times. After the procedure, the area will be bandaged.
Placement of Liver Biopsy Needle
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Your doctor will make a tiny incision. A long tool with a camera on the end will be passed into your abdomen in the area of the liver. It will send images of the liver to a TV screen. Additional incisions will be made to pass other tools. These tools will be used to remove samples of the liver.
A tiny flexible tube will be threaded into a vein in your neck or groin. This tube will be threaded all the way into the veins in your liver. A biopsy needle will be passed through the tube to get a biopsy sample.
You will lie on your right side for at least two hours.
About 15-20 minutes
You will have mild pain or cramping at the biopsy site. You may also have pain in the right shoulder. The pain should last for less than 30 minutes.
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
The biopsy results will take 1-4 weeks. You and your doctor will discuss the results.
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Liver Foundation
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Liver biopsy. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/liverbiopsy. Updated October 4, 2011. Accessed May 29, 2013.
Liver biopsy. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/liverbiopsy. Updated April 23, 2012. Accessed May 29, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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