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
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
hepatitis, or liver cancer.
Why It Is Done
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
- See how much the liver is inflamed or scarred by
hepatitis or other liver diseases.
- See whether other liver
conditions, such as
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
- Check the function of a transplanted liver.
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:
If you take insulin, check with your doctor about what you
need to take on the day of your test.
be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.
Talk to your doctor about any
concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be
done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of
this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
Arrange for someone to drive you home
after the test because you may be given a
sedative to help you relax.
You will have
blood tests done before the liver biopsy to see whether you have any bleeding
or blood clotting problems. You may also have an ultrasound test or CT scan of
the liver to check the best place to insert the biopsy needle.
not eat or drink for 10 hours before the test unless your doctor says it is okay. You will empty your bladder
before the test.