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. He or she checks 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 will get medicine to help you relax. You will also get a shot of numbing medicine in the biopsy area. Then the doctor puts a long needle through your skin between two of your lower ribs on your right side. The needle goes into your liver to take the tissue sample. The doctor may use X-ray 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, he or she removes the needle and puts a bandage on the spot where the needle went in. The procedure takes 15 to 20 minutes. But the needle is in your liver for just a few seconds.
After the procedure, you will need to lie on your right side for an hour or two. This can help stop bleeding in the part of your liver where the biopsy was done.
You will probably go home the same day. 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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Current as of: June 25, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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