What is a liver biopsy?

    In a liver biopsy, the doctor passes a needle through your skin between two ribs on the right side of your chest. Then the doctor removes a tiny sliver of liver tissue. This is called a tissue sample and it is examined in a medical laboratory for any signs of health problems. There is no big incision (cut) into your body. You will not need any stitches and there will be no scar from the biopsy.


    Will I be awake during the liver biopsy?

    You will be awake but you will be very sleepy. Before the biopsy starts, the doctor or nurse will give you medicine through a shot and/or an (IV) intravenous line to help you relax and to numb the area where the needle will go.


    How long does it take to do the biopsy?

    The biopsy will take about 20 to 30 minutes. After the biopsy is finished, you will rest in the hospital for about 4 hours to be sure you are OK and ready to go home. Altogether, you will probably be at the hospital for 5 or 6 hours.


    How do I prepare for the biopsy?

    Before you have the biopsy, the doctor will take a blood sample to make sure your blood clots properly. If you take Coumadin, you will have to stop taking it for 5 days before the biopsy. Your doctor will tell you how to stop taking Coumadin and when to start again after the biopsy is done. You must also stop taking any aspirin, Ibuprofen or Motrin for two weeks before the biopsy. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the biopsy. If you take insulin, you should take only 1/2of your regular dose on the morning the biopsy is scheduled.


    How will I feel after the biopsy?

    You will be very tired. You will probably feel a little soreness where the needle went into your liver. Some people also feel a little pain in the right shoulder. This is caused by sore muscles. Any pain you feel should go away within a few hours or days. You can take Tylenol for pain, but you must not take aspirin, Ibuprofen or Motrin for one week after the biopsy.

    Because you will be resting at the hospital for several hours after the biopsy, it is a good idea to bring something to read or music with headphones. You will still feel sleepy when it is time to go and you will not be allowed to drive. You must bring a friend or family member to help you get home safely.


    This document is intended to provide health related information so that you may be better informed. It is not a substitute for your care team's medical advice and should not be relied upon for treatment for specific medical conditions.

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