A liver biopsy is a procedure that involves taking a small piece of tissue from the liver to examine under the microscope. A liver biopsy is ordered to detect potential liver damage caused by chronic hepatitis B infections. The results of a biopsy can be used to help in making treatment decisions or evaluating current treatment.
A liver biopsy is considered a minor surgical procedure that is done in the hospital, but does not usually require admission (it's done as an "out-patient procedure"). From check-in to check-out, patients should expect to be in the hospital for approximately 6 - 8 hours. Although the procedure itself is relatively short, there is a longer recovery period where they will be asked to lie on their right side for several hours to prevent any bleeding. Be sure to tell patients to arrange for someone to drive them home upon discharge.
Methods of Liver 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 ½ inch sample is removed).
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.
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.