A biopsy of the liver is a surgical procedure in which a small amount of liver tissue is removed through surgery so it can be analyzed in the laboratory by a pathologist.
Liver biopsies are commonly done to detect the presence of abnormal cells in the liver, like cancer cells, or to consider disease processes such as cirrhosis. Your doctor may order this test if blood or imaging tests indicate there are issues with your liver.
The liver is an important organ. It produces proteins and enzyme that causes essential metabolic processes, removes contaminants from your blood, helps fight infection, and stores vital vitamins and nutrients. Problems with your liver can make you very sick or result in death.
Reason for a Liver Biopsy
Your doctor may order a biopsy to assist find out if an area is infected, inflamed, or cancerous. Signs and symptoms that your doctor would test for include:
Continual abdominal pain
Right upper quadrant abdominal mass
Digestive system issues
Laboratory tests pointing to the liver as a place of concern
A liver biopsy is typically performed if you received abnormal results from other liver tests, have a tumor or mass on your liver, or suffer from regular, unexplainable fevers.
While imaging tests like CT scans and X-rays can help perceive areas of concern, they can’t distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous cells. For this, you require a biopsy.
Although biopsies are usually related with cancer, it doesn’t mean you have cancers if your doctor orders this test. Biopsies also allow doctors to see if a condition other than cancer is making you have the symptoms.
A liver biopsy can be used to diagnose or determine a quantity of liver disorders. Conditions that have an effect on the liver and may require a biopsy include:
Chronic hepatitis (B or C)
Hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood)
Alcoholic liver disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (FLD)
Primary biliary cirrhosis (which leads to scarring on the liver)
Prime sclerosing cholangitis (which affects the liver’s bile ducts)
The Risks of a Liver Biopsy
Any medical procedure that has to do with cutting the skin carries the risk of infection and bleeding. The incision for a liver biopsy is small and needle biopsies are less invasive, so the danger is much lower.
How to Prepare for a Liver Biopsy
Biopsies do not need much preparation on the side of the patient. Base on your condition, your doctor may ask you to:
Stay away from liquid or food for up to eight hours before the procedure
Organize for someone to drive you home
Have a break taking any medications that affect bleeding, including pain relievers,
Anticoagulants and certain supplements
Take a blood sample for a blood test
How a Liver Biopsy Is Done
Prior to the procedure, you will dress into a hospital robe. Your doctor will give you a sedative through an intravenous (IV) line to make you relax.
We have three main kinds of liver biopsies.
Percutaneous:Also referred to as a needle biopsy, this biopsy includes putting a thin needle through the abdomen and into the liver. This is the most frequent type of liver biopsy.
Transjugular: This procedure is making a small incision at the neck. A thin plastic tube is inserted through the neck’s jugular vein and into the liver. This procedure is used for people who have bleeding disorders.
Laparoscopic:This procedure makes use of tube-like instruments that collect the sample through a small incision in the abdomen.
The form of anesthesia your doctor gives you will base on which type of liver biopsy they do. The percutaneous and transjugular biopsies use local anesthesia, this implies that only the affected area is numbed. Laparoscopic biopsies need general anesthesia, so you’ll be in a deep, painless sleep all through the procedure.
When your biopsy is completed, any incision wounds will be closed with stitches and properly bandaged. You will have to lie in bed for a few hours after the procedure whilst doctors observe your vital signs.
After a Liver Biopsy
After the tissue sample is taken, it will be dispatched to a laboratory for testing. This could take up to a few weeks.
When the results are brought, your doctor will call you or ask you in for a follow-up appointment to share the results. Once a prognosis is reached, your doctor will discuss any recommend treatment plans or subsequent steps with you.
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