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Liver biopsy
Liver biopsy


Liver biopsy

Definition:

A liver biopsy is a test that takes a sample of tissue from the liver for examination.



Alternative Names:

Biopsy - liver; Percutaneous biopsy



How the Test is Performed:

Most of the time, the test is done in the hospital. Before the test is done, you may be given a medicine to prevent pain or to calm you (sedative).

The biopsy may be done through the abdominal wall:

  • You will lie on your back with your right hand under your head. You need to stay as still as you can.
  • The health care provider will find the correct spot for the biopsy needle to be inserted into the liver. This is often done by using ultrasound.
  • The skin is cleaned, and numbing medicine is injected into the area using a small needle.
  • A small cut is made, and the biopsy needle is inserted.
  • You will be told to hold your breath while the biopsy is taken. This is to reduce the chance of damage to the lung or liver.
  • The needle is removed quickly.
  • Pressure will be applied to stop the bleeding. A bandage is placed over the insertion site.

The procedure can also be done by inserting a needle into the jugular vein.

  • If the procedure is performed this way, you will lie on your back.
  • X-rays will be used to guide the health care provider to the vein.
  • A special needle and catheter (thin tube) is used to take the biopsy sample.

If you receive sedation for this test, you will need someone to drive you home.



How to Prepare for the Test:

Tell your health care provider about:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Drug allergies
  • Medicines you are taking
  • Whether you are pregnant

You must sign a consent form. Blood tests are sometimes done to test your blood's ability to clot. You will be told not to eat or drink anything for the 8 hours before the test.

For infants and children:

The preparation needed for a child depends on the child's age and maturity. Your child's provider will tell you what you can do to prepare your child for this test.



How the Test will Feel:

You will feel a stinging pain when the anesthetic is injected. The biopsy needle may feel like deep pressure and dull pain. Some people feel this pain in the shoulder.



Why the Test is Performed:

The biopsy helps diagnose many liver diseases . The procedure also helps assess the stage (early, advanced) of liver disease. This is especially important in hepatitis C infection.

The biopsy also helps detect:

  • Cancer
  • Infections
  • The cause of abnormal levels of liver enzymes that have been found in blood tests
  • The cause of an unexplained liver enlargement


Normal Results:

The liver tissue is normal.



What Abnormal Results Mean:

The biopsy may reveal a number of liver diseases, including cirrhosis , hepatitis , or infections such as tuberculosis . It may also indicate cancer.

This test also may be performed for:



Risks:

Risks may include:

  • Collapsed lung
  • Complications from the sedation
  • Injury to the gallbladder or kidney
  • Internal bleeding


References:

Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:section IX.

Lomas DJ and Mannelli L. The liver and spleen. In: Adam A, Dixon AK, Gillard JH, Schaefer-Prokop CM, eds. Grainger & Allison's Diagnostic Radiology: A Textbook of Medical Imaging. 6th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 31.




Review Date: 2/11/2015
Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with gastrointestinal specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Hackettstown Medical Center

651 Willow Grove Street
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
908-852-5100

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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