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Percutaneous Liver Biopsy


Percutaneous liver biopsy is a procedure to remove a small tissue sample from your liver. A healthcare provider will insert a needle through your skin in the upper right part of your abdomen. Samples will be sent to a lab for be tested to find the cause of or to help monitor your liver condition.


Before your procedure:

  • Ask someone to drive you home when you are ready to leave the hospital. Do not drive yourself home. Plan for someone to stay overnight with you after your biopsy. You also need to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital the first night after your biopsy.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. If your blood tests show your blood takes a long time to clot, it may not be safe for you to have the biopsy. You may need a transfusion of platelets or plasma before the procedure. Platelets and plasma are parts of your blood that help your blood clot better. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests or treatments you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test and treatment.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will be given shots of numbing medicine into the skin and tissue where the biopsy will be done. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure. Your healthcare provider may use an ultrasound to mark the area on your skin where the biopsy will be done. Your healthcare provider may also use the ultrasound to guide him through the entire procedure.
  • A small incision may be made in your skin. Your healthcare provider will insert the biopsy needle through the incision in your skin and into your liver. He will remove a small piece of your liver tissue through the needle. Your healthcare provider may insert the needle more than once to get enough liver tissue. A healthcare provider will hold pressure on the biopsy area to stop any bleeding. You may hear a clicking sound as the needle takes the tissue sample. Once the bleeding has stopped, a bandage will be placed on your skin over the biopsy site. The samples will be sent to a lab for testing to help with diagnosing or monitoring your liver condition.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest after your procedure. You may need to lie on your right side for 1 to 2 hours after your biopsy. You may have something placed under your right side to put pressure on the area where the biopsy was done. After you lie on your side, you will need to lie on your back for up to 4 more hours. Do not try to change position or get out of bed before your healthcare provider says it is okay. Healthcare providers check your heartbeat, breathing rate, blood pressure, and temperature. You may need blood tests and imaging tests after your procedure to check for bleeding. When healthcare providers see that you are not having any problems, you may be able to go home.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have new abdominal pain or swelling, or your pain or swelling is getting worse.
  • You have new yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, or the yellowing is getting worse.


  • You may have an allergic response to the medicine used during your procedure. During your biopsy, the needle may break while in your skin. Nearby organs and blood vessels may be damaged. Your lung may collapse, making it hard for you to breathe. After your biopsy, you may have pain in the area where the biopsy was done, and in your right shoulder. You may have nausea, vomiting, weakness, and dizziness. You may bruise or have swelling in your abdomen.
  • The biopsy area may bleed or become infected. An abscess (pus pocket) may form in your liver, or you may get an infection in your blood or abdomen. You may need a blood transfusion if you are bleeding inside your abdomen. If you lose large amounts of blood, you may need surgery to stop the bleeding. Severe blood loss may be life-threatening.
  • If you do not have the percutaneous liver biopsy, you may not learn the cause of your symptoms. You may not learn if you have a serious liver disease, such as hepatitis or cancer. If you have a transplanted liver, you will not know if your body is rejecting it. Your liver disease may get worse. If you have cancer, it may grow and spread to other areas of your body. These conditions may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.