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A liver biopsy is a test used to diagnose liver conditions. Tissue samples are removed from your liver and checked under a microscope for signs of damage or disease.
A liver biopsy can tell if there are cancer cells or other abnormal cells in your liver. It can also tell how well your liver is working.
There are 3 types of liver biopsies:
If your provider wants to sample a certain part of your liver, the biopsy may be done in the radiology department. It will be guided using an imaging test such as:
A liver biopsy is used to see if you have liver conditions that can’t be diagnosed by symptoms or lab tests. A biopsy may be done if you have:
A liver biopsy may be used to see if you have a condition such as:
Your provider may have other reasons to recommend a liver biopsy.
Some possible complications may include:
If your liver biopsy is done using X-rays, the amount of radiation used is small. The risk for radiation exposure is low.
In some cases a liver biopsy may not be advised. This includes cases where you have:
You may have other risks that are unique to you. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
Your healthcare provider may have other instructions for you based on your medical condition.
You may have a liver biopsy as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. A liver biopsy may be done in a procedure room, in a hospital bed, or in the radiology department. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, a percutaneous liver biopsy follows this process:
Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of biopsy you had and your provider’s practices. You may be taken to the recovery room to be watched if your biopsy was done in a procedure room or in the radiology department.
Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you may be taken to a hospital room or discharged to your home.
You will be asked to rest quietly, lying on your right side, for 1 to 2 hours. This will put pressure on the biopsy site. Depending on your condition and your provider's preferences, you may be told to stay on bed rest for an additional 4 to 24 hours.
A blood sample may be taken a few hours after the biopsy to check for possible internal blood loss.
If you are discharged home within a few hours after the procedure, you may be told to stay on bed rest at home for a certain amount of time.
Leave the bandage in place for as long as instructed, usually until the next day.
You will be told to avoid intense activity, such as heavy lifting, for several days up to a week or longer. You should not cough hard or strain for a few hours after the biopsy.
The biopsy site may be sore for a few days. Take a pain medicine as recommended by your provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Only take medicines that your provider has approved.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
You may go back to eating normally unless your provider has other instructions.
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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