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:
- Are taking aspirin,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as
ibuprofen or naproxen), blood thinners (such as Coumadin or heparin), or
antiplatelet medicines such as clopidogrel (Plavix). You may be asked to stop taking these
medicines at least 1 week before the test to lower the chance of bleeding after
- Are taking any heart medicines.
- Are using
any herbal supplements.
- Are allergic to any medicines, including
- Have had bleeding
- Are or might be pregnant.
- Have recently had
pneumonia, which may make it hard to do this
- Have a history of fluid buildup in the belly (ascites ). Ascites may make it hard to do this