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Liver Biopsy

Before the liver biopsy, ask your doctor any questions you have.

During a liver biopsy, a needle is inserted through the skin (percutaneous) and into the liver. A small sample of liver tissue is then removed and sent to a lab to be examined.

Man lying on back on table. Two healthcare providers wearing surgical gowns, eye protection, and gloves are standing next to table. One healthcare provider is placing device on man's finger. Another healthcare provider is feeling man's abdomen.
Your doctor will feel the lower chest and upper abdominal area to find the best site for your biopsy.

Getting Ready

  • Be sure to have any blood tests that your doctor orders.

  • Stop taking aspirin and other medications as directed.

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight before your biopsy.

  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after your biopsy.

During the Procedure

  • After changing into a hospital gown, you lie on your back or your left side. Part of your body is draped.

  • Your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature are checked.

  • A sedative may be given through an IV (intravenous) line.

  • A small syringe is inserted through a tiny incision.

  • A small sample of liver tissue is taken out. While this is done, you will be told to hold your breath. The needle is removed.

  • A bandage is placed over the incision site. You may be asked to lie for a while on your right side. A pillow or special sandbag may be used to apply pressure to the incision site.

  • You will be monitored for a few hours after your biopsy.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Severe pain near the biopsy site or in the abdomen or chest

  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fever

  • Bleeding from the incision site

After the Procedure

Have someone drive you home after your liver biopsy. You may feel some pain near the biopsy site or in your right shoulder. Get plenty of rest. Avoid alcohol, aspirin, heavy lifting, and exercise for a few days. Follow your doctor’s advice.

Getting Your Results

Getting your biopsy results may take a few days. When the results are ready, your doctor can discuss them with you.

© 2000-2011 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.