Alternate Names : Biopsy of the Liver, Percutaneous Liver Biopsy
A liver biopsy involves taking a small piece of tissue from the liver with a special needle. The sample is examined for signs of damage or disease.
Who is a candidate for the test?
The healthcare provider may order a liver biopsy if a person is suspected of having potentially serious liver disease.
How is the test performed?
A liver biopsy is a form of minor surgery that is usually done in the hospital. An intravenous line, or IV, is started in one of the veins. The person is then given a sedative and pain medicine. The healthcare provider will inject local anesthesia to numb the person's right side near the ribs. For a needle biopsy of the liver, a thin needle is then inserted. A small piece of liver tissue is drawn out through the needle. The provider may use an ultrasound to guide the needle insertion. Pressure is applied to the puncture site to prevent bleeding, and the site is bandaged.
Two less common methods for liver biopsy involve more extensive surgery. A laparoscopic biopsy is done by inserting a lighted tube through an incision into the abdomen. A transvenous biopsy is done through a catheter that is inserted into a neck vein.