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Liver biopsy involves removing small pieces of tissue from your liver using a needle. The procedure is performed by a radiologist (doctor who specialises in x-rays and scans).
A liver biopsy can help your doctor to find out if there is a problem with your liver, such as inflammation (hepatitis), cirrhosis or a tumour.
A blood test or scan may show that you have a problem. However, a biopsy will help to find out exactly what is causing the problem and will help your doctor to decide the best treatment for you.
Your doctor will make a small cut on the skin on your right side, usually between your lower ribs. They will insert the needle through the cut and into your liver to remove a small piece of tissue (see figure 1). They will often use an ultrasound scan to guide them while they perform the biopsy.
Your doctor will make a small cut on your skin on the right side of your neck and then insert a catheter (tube) into your jugular vein. They will use x-rays to help them guide the tube through your veins. When the tube reaches your liver, your doctor will pass a needle down the tube to remove a small piece of tissue.
You should be able to go home the same day.
You should be able to return to work the next day unless you are told otherwise. Do not do strenuous exercise for one to two days.
The heathcare team will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
A liver biopsy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem with your liver.
Author: Dr Simon Whitaker MRCP FRCR and Mrs Samantha Gamble RGN
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com
This page is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
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