Occasionally, a liver biopsy may not provide helpful results because not enough tissue is sampled
to make a clear diagnosis.
What To Think About
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine
aminotransferase (ALT) are blood tests done to check liver function. Both ALT
and AST levels show liver damage and may be done to help diagnose liver
disease. A liver biopsy may be done when AST and ALT levels are very high and
no other reason for high levels is found.
biopsy should not be done on people who have bleeding or blood clotting
problems, or certain types of infections.
A transvenous liver
biopsy is another method that may be used. During this test, a radiologist inserts a thin tube
(catheter) into a neck vein, which is guided to the liver. A sample can be taken
through the catheter.
If a larger sample of liver tissue is needed,
an open biopsy of the liver may be done at another time, using surgery or
laparoscopy. A liver biopsy is sometimes done at the
same time as another abdominal surgery. To learn more, see the topic
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Michel M. Murr, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery