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Percutaneous liver biopsy is a procedure to take a very small sample of your liver tissue. Then a doctor looks at this tissue under a microscope. They check it for infection or other liver problems.
Percutaneous (say "per-kew-TAY-nee-us") means "through the skin." Sometimes this procedure is called aspiration biopsy or fine-needle aspiration.
You may get medicine to help you relax. You will get a shot of numbing medicine in the biopsy area. Then the doctor guides a needle into your liver to take the tissue sample. The doctor may use ultrasound pictures on a screen to help guide the needle into the liver. When the needle goes into the liver, you may feel a pain in your shoulder. This is called referred pain. It's caused by pain that travels along a nerve near the biopsy area. After the doctor gets the sample, they remove the needle and put a bandage on the spot where the needle went in. The procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes, but the needle is in your liver for just a few seconds.
After the procedure, you will need to rest in bed for a few hours. Nurses will watch over the biopsy site.
You will probably go home the same day, but do not drive yourself. It can take several days to get the results of the biopsy. Your doctor will discuss the results with you.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect and it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Adaptation Date: 5/19/2020
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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