Liver biopsy

What is Liver biopsy?

Liver biopsy is a procedure where the doctor takes a sample of cells from the liver for laboratory testing. It is a non-invasive and minimally-invasive procedure for diagnosing and monitoring liver diseases, such as liver cancer, cirrhosis, fat deposits, hepatitis, and other liver ailments. It helps doctors make an accurate diagnosis and plan the right treatment for patients.

Why is Liver Biopsy Performed?

A liver biopsy is usually recommended when the doctor suspects a disease in the liver or if he/she needs to monitor the progression or response to certain treatments. Liver biopsy is also performed to find out the cause and extent of liver damage, if any, in cases where the patient has a high bilirubin level, liver enzyme tests, or abnormal imaging results. It helps to create an accurate diagnosis, or to rule out any potential liver problems.

Preparation for Liver Biopsy

Before the procedure, the patient should discuss all medications he/she is taking with the doctor, as some of them might need to be stopped. The patient also need to inform the doctor about any medical conditions he/she has, such as allergies, diabetes, or bleeding problems. It is also important to fast for 8 hours before the procedure.

Types of Liver Biopsy

There are two types of liver biopsy: fine needle biopsy and core biopsy.

  • A fine needle biopsy is performed using a thin needle that is inserted into the liver through the skin with the help of an ultrasound machine, and a small sample is taken using negative suction. This procedure is performed under local anaesthesia and is relatively less painful.
  • A core biopsy is performed using a slightly larger needle that is inserted through a larger incision, and a larger sample of liver tissue between 3-5mm in diameter is taken from the liver. This procedure requires either general anaesthesia or nerve blocks.

Risks of Liver Biopsy

Liver biopsy is a very safe procedure with minimal risks. However, bleeding is the most common complication that can occur during and after the biopsy. Other potential risks include injury to the liver tissues, infections, or a reaction to the anaesthesia.

Aftercare after Liver Biopsy

Immediately after the procedure, the patient should rest and avoid strenuous activities for a few days. In the case of a core biopsy, it is important to keep the incision clean. The doctor will also prescribe medications to reduce any risk of infection and help the healing process.