A liver biopsy involves a medical procedure where a small piece of your liver tissue gets removed so medical personnel can examine the condition of the liver. Viewing this tissue beneath a microscope allows doctors to search for signs of disease or damage.
The liver performs multiple vital functions in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into nutrients and energy. It also removes harmful compounds from your bloodstream. It’s important to address liver problems right away.
In most cases, doctors will recommend a liver biopsy when blood tests and imaging studies indicate you might have a problem.
A liver biopsy provides the most accurate results about the condition of your liver, allowing doctors to detect infections and cancer, swelling of the liver, and abnormal enzyme levels. It even allows doctors to determine what phase a disease is in.
You can always look for a liver disease consultant at Memorial Hermann North Houston Endoscopy and Surgery Center.
Symptoms of Liver Damage
You should talk to your doctor about checking your liver if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:
- Digestive issues
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Right upper quadrant abdominal issues
- Unexplained fevers
Your doctor will always begin with a series of lab tests to determine whether or not a liver biopsy is called for.
A liver biopsy can help us diagnose and monitor several disorders, including:
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Chronic hepatitis (B or C)
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (FLD)
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangits
- Wison’s Disease
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
Preparing for a Liver Biopsy
You don’t need to do much to prepare for a liver biopsy. However, your doctor might ask you to undergo a physical examination. He or she might also ask you for a complete medical history. You might need to get a blood draw.
Pay close attention to any instructions you receive. You may be asked to stop certain medications such as pain relievers, supplements, and anticoagulants, as these medications affect bleeding. Your doctor might also ask you to avoid certain foods or drinks prior to the procedure.
Performing a Liver Biopsy
There are three types of liver biopsy:
- Percutaneous Biopsy, also known as needle biopsy, involves the insertion of a thin needle through the abdomen and into the liver.
- ATransjugular Biopsy, which requires doctors to make a small incision in the neck. The physician will then insert a thin, flexible tube through the jugular vein and into the liver.
- Laparoscopic Biopsy, which involves the use of tube-like instruments that collect sample data from a small incision into the abdomen.
When the biopsy procedure is complete, all incision wounds get sealed with stitches and proper bandaging. You will need to avoid strenuous activity for 1-2 weeks after the procedure is complete.