What is Liver Biopsy? How And Why is It Preformed?

What is Liver Biopsy? How And Why is It Preformed?

What is Liver Biopsy?

A liver biopsy is a test that allows doctors to study a sample of tissue from the liver under a microscope. Many serious medical conditions, including cancer, can be tested with a liver biopsy.

During a liver biopsy, an interventional radiologist inserts a long, thin needle into the liver and removes a small amount of tissue. A pathologist then examines this tissue under a microscope.

How is Liver Biopsy Performed?

During the procedure, the person is awake and the specialist inserts a needle into the skin and liver to take a tissue sample. The specialist can locate the liver by feeling it under the skin and with the help of ultrasound.

Lidocaine (local anesthetic) is injected into the skin around the liver and under it. An incision is made in the area determined by the doctor, then a needle is inserted into the incision. When the needle is inserted, the person may be asked to hold their breath for a short time.

Most people do not feel pain, but a blunt ache or shoulder pain may be felt. This procedure is percutaneous biopsy. There are also rarely used Transvenous and Laparoscopic liver biopsy methods.

A new generation percutaneous liver biopsy method is illustrated below. Unlike other percutaneous liver biopsies, this method uses an optical (luminous under ultrasound) needle. This way, the area to be biopsied is better targeted (ONP= optic needle probe).


How Does It Feel to Have a Liver Biopsy?

Often people are concerned about pain during a liver biopsy. In most cases, people can feel the needle the specialist has inserted to numb the biopsy site. Not pain but tingling may be felt when the area is numb.

After the procedures, people may feel some pain or soreness, but this will not be severe or unbearable. Doctors may prescribe painkiller

What to Do Before Liver Biopsy?

Blood tests are needed before a liver biopsy to assess whether a person has any conditions that increase their risk of bleeding or other complications.

The person should inform the doctor and healthcare team about the current medications or supplements they are using.

Doctors usually recommend discontinuing aspirin, blood thinners, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) a week before the biopsy. These can increase the risk of bleeding. After a liver biopsy, dizziness may be felt due to sedation, so it is recommended that people come with an accompanying person to have a biopsy.

What Happens After Liver Biopsy?

Regardless of the type of liver biopsy performed, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommends that people stay in the hospital or under specialist control for 2 to 4 hours after the procedure. Most complications occur within the first 1-3 hours after the biopsy, but it is important to remember that a complication may occur within 24 hours.

What Are the Risks Associated with Liver Biopsy?

In more than 95% of people who have a liver biopsy, the test is successful. The overall complication rate is as low as 1%, while the mortality rate is 0.2%.

However, we cannot say that liver biopsy is a risk-free process. That's why people - especially older adults and people with health problems - should consider the risks and benefits of testing with a healthcare professional.


A liver biopsy can help diagnose several medical conditions. It also helps distinguish one medical condition from another. A liver biopsy may be ordered for people who have an abnormal liver ultrasound result, an abnormal liver blood test result, or significant risk factors for liver cancer or other serious liver disease.

People considering having a liver biopsy should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits and learn about alternatives. For most people, a liver biopsy is a safe procedure and is unlikely to cause severe pain.