A liver biopsy is done using a needle inserted between two of the right lower ribs to remove a sample of liver tissue. The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory and looked at under a microscope to see if there are any liver problems.
A liver biopsy may be done when liver blood tests are abnormal. It may be done when an X-ray, an ultrasound, or a computed tomography (CT) scan shows a problem with the liver. A liver biopsy can also be done to find the cause of jaundice or to check on cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver cancer.
Why It Is Done
A liver biopsy may be done to:
- Find the cause of jaundice. A liver biopsy can find certain liver diseases (such as cirrhosis), infections (such as hepatitis), and liver tumors.
- Find the cause of abnormal blood test results from aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) tests. Both ALT and AST levels show liver damage and can help confirm liver disease.
- See how much the liver is inflamed or scarred by hepatitis or other liver diseases.
- See whether other liver conditions, such as hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease, are present.
- Check the response to treatment for liver disease.
- Determine whether a medicine, such as methotrexate, is causing a toxic effect on the liver.
- Check the function of a transplanted liver.
- Find the cause of an unexplained and ongoing fever.
- Check a liver mass found on an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan.
How To Prepare
Before you have a liver biopsy, tell your doctor if you: