Liver Biopsy

The best way to establish what type of liver disease is present and the extent of the disease, is a biopsy. A liver biopsy involves obtaining a small piece of liver tissue to send to the laboratory to be examined under the microscope.

The results will provide valuable information about the cause, severity (stage), prognosis and assist in the management of your liver problem. The test is usually performed by inserting a specially designed needle into the liver through the skin with ultrasound guidance and taking a small sample of liver tissue. Before your doctor does this procedure, they will check whether or not you are at increased risk of bleeding by doing blood clotting tests.

Following the procedure, you will be monitored for several hours before you are discharged to go home. Observations, including blood pressure and pulse rate, will be made frequently to determine if any complications are occurring.

The most common complication is some discomfort at the time of liver biopsy or soon afterwards. Discomfort of this nature may be expected in one third of patients. Treatment for this is usually pain medication either orally or by injection.