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Liver Biopsy

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

During a liver biopsy, your doctor inserts a needle through your skin (percutaneous) and into your liver. He or she removes a small sample of liver tissue and sends it to a lab to be examined.

Man lying on back on table. Two health care providers wearing surgical gowns, eye protection, and gloves are standing next to table. One health care provider is placing device on man's finger. Another health care provider is feeling man's abdomen.

Getting ready

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

  • Stop taking aspirin and other medications as directed, one week before the biopsy.

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

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

  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any blood thinning medications, this includes aspirin.

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 health care provider checks your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, and temperature. 

  • Your health care provider may give you a sedative through an IV (intravenous) line. He or she will also give you a local anesthetic in the skin around the biopsy site.

  • He or she inserts a small needle through a tiny incision in your abdominal wall into the liver.

  • 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 health care provider places a bandage over the incision site. He or she may ask you 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 and discharged home if you have no pain or signs of bleeding.

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 your abdomen or chest

  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fever

  • Bleeding from the incision site

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Distended abdomen

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 (as a result of referral pain). Get plenty of rest. Avoid alcohol, heavy lifting, and exercise for a few days. Do not take aspirin. Follow your doctor’s advice.

Getting your results

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


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