How It Is Done
A liver biopsy is done by a
surgeon in a clinic or a hospital. A liver biopsy is
often done by a radiologist using ultrasound or a CT scan to help guide the
biopsy needle. When cirrhosis of the liver or a cancer is suspected, a liver
biopsy may be done during a
You will need to take off
all or most of your clothes. You will be given a cloth or paper gown to use
during the test.
Before the test, you may be given a sedative
through a vein (IV) in your arm. The sedative will help you relax and
remain still. During the test, you will lie on your back with your right arm
resting under or above your head and your head turned to your left. Your doctor
may tap on your chest and belly to find your liver or he or she may use
Your doctor will mark a spot between two of your right
lower ribs where the biopsy needle will be inserted. The site will be cleaned
with a special soap and draped with sterile towels. The doctor will give you a
medicine (local anesthetic) to numb the area where the biopsy
needle will be inserted.
You may be asked to take a deep breath,
blow all the air out, and then hold your breath while the biopsy needle is
being inserted and withdrawn. This will take only a few seconds. Holding your
breath lowers the chance that the needle will go in your lung since the lungs
are very close to the liver. It is important to remain still during the few
seconds it takes for the doctor to collect the tissue sample. The doctor may
take another tissue sample from the same spot, but from a different
See a picture of the
placement of the liver biopsy needle .
As soon as the doctor removes
the needle, you can breathe normally. A bandage will be put on the puncture
site. The test generally takes 15 to 30 minutes.
You will rest in
bed and lie on your right side for 2 to 6 hours after the test. Your pulse,
blood pressure, and temperature will be checked often after the biopsy.
You can go home if you have no problems after the test. You may eat your
regular diet. But unless your doctor tells you it is okay, do not take aspirin,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, blood thinners, or antiplatelet
medicines for one week after the biopsy. You may do your regular activities,
but do not do strenuous activities or heavy lifting until your doctor says it