A liver biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that samples a person’s liver tissue to check for any abnormalities. Specialists, such as imaging physicians and diagnostic medical sonographers, may use an ultrasound guide to perform the procedure.
A liver biopsy is an outpatient procedure that a doctor may recommend to diagnose any liver abnormalities. Most people experience little or no discomfort during a liver biopsy.
They are quick procedures that require
Some experts may require imaging, such as ultrasound guidance or CT scans, to perform a liver biopsy.
This article will explore what an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy is and why a person may need one. It also explores the procedure’s risks, benefits, outlook, and preparation requirements and what to expect from one.
Ultrasound-guided liver biopsy is a safe procedure that helps ensure the accurate placing of the biopsy needle tip to sample the appropriate site on the body. A doctor will ask for this test if they suspect liver abnormalities and require confirmation.
During this procedure, a doctor makes a small skin incision below or between the lower ribs. They then insert a slender needle through the opening to collect a sample of liver tissue for examination.
Ultrasound images guide the needle accurately through the liver so that the procedure is safer and complications are minimal.
A person may need a liver biopsy if they have complications that a doctor cannot determine using the individual’s symptoms or a lab test. Someone may need a liver biopsy if they have:
- Bleeding: Even though it is
rareto bleed after a liver biopsy, it still happens. Excessive bleeding may require a blood transfusion or surgery.
- Infection: Although rare, bacteria may enter the abdominal cavity or blood, causing an infection.
- Injury to a nearby organ: While it is rare to injure organs or vessels during an ultrasound-guided biopsy, injury can affect organs such as the gallbladder or lungs.
Rare complications that
- infections leading to sepsis
- pneumothorax, partial or total collapse of a lung
- hemothorax, bleeding inside the lung
A person may also have other risks specific to them. It is beneficial to speak with a doctor about these concerns before the procedure.
Although liver biopsies do not require much preparation, it is best to ask a doctor for the best ways to prepare before the procedure. A doctor
- complete a physical exam
- provide a complete medical history
- stop taking blood thinners, such as pain relievers, anticoagulants, and certain supplements, if applicable
- have a blood test
- fast at least 8 hours before the procedure
- bring someone with them to drive them home afterward
For an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy, a person can expect the following:
Just before a liver biopsy, a nurse or doctor will request the patient’s medical history and take a clinical assessment. A nurse will give them a hospital gown to wear for the procedure. Afterward, the healthcare professional will use a needle to administer a sedative to help the patient relax.
A diagnostic medical sonographer will explain the procedure, while the imaging physician will explain the risks and benefits. After this, the patient will sign a consent form.
During the biopsy
Here is what to expect during an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy.
- The procedure will take place with the person lying on their back on an examination table, either with their right arm above their head or lying on their left side.
- Doctors will take ultrasound images of the stomach to enable the precise location of the biopsy area.
- The doctor will apply a warm gel to the abdomen. This gel allows sound waves from the ultrasound to travel into the stomach easily.
- They will also place a wand-like handheld device, which people call a transducer, over the area they are examining. Although this part is painless, a person may feel slight discomfort from the device.
- When the imaging physician finds the biopsy area, they will clean the abdomen and place sterile drapes over the surgical area.
- The imaging physician will then apply anesthesia to numb the biopsy site.
- Medical professionals will precisely insert a biopsy needle into the area to collect a tissue sample from the liver.
After a liver biopsy
After the procedure, a healthcare professional will monitor the patient for a while. The operated area may be sore for a few days. A person should only take pain medications that the doctor has prescribed, as aspirin or other painkillers may increase the risk of bleeding.
A pathologist will examine the collected tissue through a microscope to look for signs of any underlying conditions. These results are usually ready within a
Doctors often recommend avoiding strenuous activities for at least a week. A person should talk with their doctor to know when they can resume their usual activities.
The amount of pain a person will experience depends on the method the doctor uses to carry out the biopsy. The two types of ultrasound-guided liver biopsy include the subcostal procedure, which is below the rib, and the intercostal procedure, which is between the ribs.
Pain after a liver biopsy usually involves mild discomfort. A doctor
An ultrasound-guided liver biopsy helps ensure there is no damage to major blood vessels or organs during the procedure.
Some people experience discomfort following a liver biopsy. While doctors typically recommend over-the-counter pain relief, any discomfort should stop after a few days.
Though complications are rare, they are possible. If a person experiences complications after a biopsy, they should seek immediate medical attention.
An ultrasound-guided liver biopsy is a generally safe and easy way to discover any liver abnormalities. A doctor will typically carry use this procedure to rule out any diseases of the liver.
During an ultrasound biopsy, healthcare professionals will use a slender needle to collect a small sample of liver tissue for examination under a microscope. After a few days, a pathologist will generate a report, and the doctor will discuss the diagnosis and next steps with the person.
Liver biopsies may cause discomfort, but a doctor can recommend pain medications to help. People should contact a healthcare professional if they experience any complications from the procedure.