A liver biopsy is a medical procedure used to remove a small piece of liver tissue so doctors can examine the liver’s condition.
When other tests indicate that your liver may not be working properly, your doctor may want to do a liver biopsy to more accurately learn the condition of your liver.
A liver biopsy is an accurate way to learn the condition of your liver. A liver biopsy helps:
Before the biopsy, your doctor will take blood samples to make sure your blood clots properly. You will not be able to eat or drink anything for eight hours before the test.
It is important to tell your doctor:
Your doctor also may give you additional instructions regarding your medications.
A liver biopsy is done at a hospital and can be performed in the following ways:
You will be asked to lie on your back with your right hand above your head. After injecting a local anesthetic to numb the area, a doctor will make a small cut in your right side near your rib cage and insert a needle to get a tiny sample of your liver tissue. An ultrasound image of your liver may be used in the process to help guide the needle. You will need to stay very still during the process and will need to hold your breath for five to ten seconds when the needle is being injected. You may feel pressure and a dull pain. The entire procedure lasts about twenty minutes.
Your doctor will insert a tube called a laparoscope through a small cut in your abdomen. The laparoscope sends images of your liver to a monitor. Your doctor watches the monitor and uses instruments in the laparoscope to take tiny tissue samples from your liver. The laparoscopic method is used when your doctor needs tissue samples from a specific part of your liver.
Your doctor will insert a tube called a catheter into a vein in your neck and guide it to your liver. The doctor puts a biopsy needle into the catheter and guides into your liver to take tiny tissue samples. The transvenous method is used if you have blood clotting problems or have fluid in your abdomen.
After the biopsy, a bandage will be put over the cut and you will need to lie on your right side for a few hours. Afterwards, you will receive directions about limiting physical activity. You may be sore in the area of the biopsy and in your right shoulder. The pain usually goes away in a few hours or days. Your doctor also may provide other instructions after the biopsy.
Liver biopsy does have some risks but they are not common. Risks include internal bleeding, injury to the lung, gallbladder or kidney, and infection.
Liver function tests help your doctor check your liver’s health and detect liver damage. These blood tests measure the levels of certain proteins and enzymes in your blood. Proteins are large molecules that are needed for your overall health. Enzymes are cellular proteins that help important chemical reactions to occur in your body.
Liver function tests may be done for many reasons. Some doctors perform these tests as part of a regular checkup. Other doctors may use liver function tests to screen patients who are at risk for liver disease. Doctors also use them to monitor a person’s liver disease and to check if treatment is working.
Bilirubin is a yellow fluid made in your body when red blood cells break down. A bilirubin test measures the level of bilirubin in your blood. If your liver is damaged, bilirubin can leak out of your liver into your blood and can cause jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes). It also can come out in the urine making it look very dark.
Your doctor may order tests that take images, or pictures, of your liver to help make the diagnosis of liver disease. Different types of images can be obtained by using various types of equipment, including:
These tests cannot show inflammation or fibrosis, so your doctor can’t use them to determine whether you have simple fatty liver or NASH. However, there are other types of imaging tests that are used to measure fibrosis by measuring the stiffness of your liver. Liver stiffness indicates scarring; the more scarring that is present the stiffer your liver is. The following tests can help your doctor determine if, and to what extent, you have fibrosis of the liver.
This test measures liver stiffness with a special ultrasound machine, the most common being FibroScan. Like a regular ultrasound, the exam is painless and non-invasive.
This is a newer, noninvasive test that combines features of ultrasound and MRI imaging to create a visual map showing gradients of stiffness throughout the liver. MRE has been shown to be a more reliable measure of liver stiffness in severely obese patients.
Last updated on August 14th, 2023 at 12:31 pm