Procedure and Preparation For Conducting a Liver Biopsy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is a Liver Biopsy

The liver is a vital organ and it performs many essential functions. Therefore a healthy liver is essential for a regular, healthy life. When liver function is affected either due to injury, damage or illness, it causes many complications. In such a case, doctors opt for a liver biopsy to zero in on the cause of poor liver function.

During a liver biopsy procedure, a small piece of liver tissue is extracted and tested. This test enables doctors to diagnosis a number of serious conditions like cirrhosis, hepatitis and cancer.


A liver biopsy is conducted to study the health and state of the liver. There are several potential approaches to procuring tissue for a liver biopsy. The most commonly used technique for liver biopsy is the percutaneous liver biopsy. In this method, a hollow needle is inserted into the liver and a tissue sample is extracted.

Before the actual biopsy, doctors order an ultrasound or a computerized tomography (CT) to obtain detailed images of the interior of the body; this means the liver and the tissues surrounding it. Using this image, they know exactly where to insert the needle and decrease the chances of multiple incisions.

This procedure allows for tests like liver biopsy cirrhosis, hepatitis C liver biopsy, liver cancer biopsy, liver biopsy hepatitis B, all life threatening conditions. By zeroing on the cause of liver malfunction, doctors are able to start the patient on a proper treatment plan immediately. This ensures no further damage is caused to the liver.


Before a liver biopsy, you are required to share a complete medical history with your doctor. This includes use of herbal medicines, aspirins and blood thinning medication as they may increase the risk of bleeding post the procedure. For a liver biopsy, the patient is asked to lie down. The area over the liver is cleaned with antiseptic and a local anesthetic is administered. Once the anesthetic kicks in, a hollow needle is inserted into the body to the liver. The doctor will now ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds and he extracts liver tissue (when you breathe the liver moves). Some doctors may utilize an imaging technique, like the percutaneous image guided liver biopsy, through the procedure. Once the sample is extracted it is sent to the lab for testing. Liver biopsy recovery is monitored carefully as there is a chance of bleeding. Patients are usually observed for a few hours before they are discharged.