A liver biopsy involves taking a tiny slice of tissue from the liver with a special needle. The sample is examined for signs of damage or disease.
The healthcare professional may order a liver biopsy if a person is suspected of having potentially serious liver disease.
A liver biopsy is a form of minor surgery that is usually done in the hospital. An intravenous line, or IV, is started in one of the veins. Usually, the person is then given a sedative and pain medicine. The healthcare professional will inject local anesthetic to numb the person's right side near the ribs.
For a needle biopsy of the liver, a thin needle is then inserted, sometimes under the guidance of an ultrasound machine. A small piece of liver tissue is drawn out through the needle.. Pressure is applied to the puncture site to prevent bleeding, and the site is bandaged.
Two less commonly used methods for liver biopsy involve more extensive surgery. A laparoscopic biopsy is done by inserting a lighted tube through an incision into the abdomen. A transvenous biopsy is done through a catheter inserted into a neck vein.
The healthcare professional will give specific instructions. Usually, medicines that cause blood thinning are stopped a week before the test. These include coumadin, ibuprofen, and aspirin. The individual may be told to fast for 8 hours before the test.
Abnormalities on a liver biopsy can identify several disorders, including: alcoholic liver diseasecancer of the livercirrhosis, which is a chronic disease causing scarring of the liverhemochromatosis, which causes a buildup of iron in the liverhepatitistuberculosis, an infection that usually begins in the lungsWilson disease, in which copper builds up in the liverautoimmune liver disease (such as lupus)