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Liver Biopsy

A liver biopsy may be ordered to help a doctor decide whether to start treatment for chronic HBV infections and/or to confirm a diagnosis of primary liver cancer. It is generally considered a minor surgical procedure and is done in the hospital as an "outpatient procedure"(it does not usually require admission). Although the procedure itself is relatively short, there is a longer recovery period during which patients will be asked to lie on their right side for several hours to prevent any bleeding. A patient should expect to be in the hospital for approximately 6 to 8 hours, and must arrange for someone to drive them home from the hospital.

Liver Biopsy Methods

Percutaneous Needle Biopsy
Most patients undergo this type of liver biopsy. This procedure involves numbing an area on the right ribcage, making a tiny incision, and then inserting a thin needle between the ribs to obtain a small tissue sample from the liver (a -inch sample is removed).

Laparoscopic Biopsy
This procedure is ordered when tissue samples from specific parts of the liver are required. A special tube called a "laparoscope" is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. The laparoscope sends images of the liver to a monitor that a doctor watches to guide him or her in obtaining tissue samples from one or more parts of the liver.

Transvenous Biopsy
This procedure is used when patients have blood-clotting problems or fluid in the abdomen. It involves placing a biopsy needle inside a tube called a catheter, which is inserted into a vein in the neck and then guided into the liver to obtain a tissue sample.

Additional Information About Liver Biopsy

Visit Liver Cancer Connect, the Hepatitis B Foundation's dedicated patient-focused liver cancer website. 

About A Liver Biopsy by the NIDDK of the National Institutes of Health


Page Last modified March 6, 2014

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