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Needle Liver Biopsy

What is a needle liver biopsy?
Why would a doctor recommend a needle liver biopsy?
What does a needle liver biopsy involve?
How long is the recovery after a needle liver biopsy?

What is a needle liver biopsy?

In a needle liver biopsy, a doctor uses a special tool to remove a tiny sample of your liver. The sample is then checked at a laboratory for signs of liver damage or disease. The procedure is done through the skin, and only takes about 20 minutes. Usually it is not painful.

Why would a doctor recommend a needle liver biopsy?

A biopsy is the best way to check the health of your liver. A doctor may suggest a biopsy to:

  • Confirm that you have a liver disease
  • Help determine the cause of liver disease, if unknown
  • Determine the severity of liver damage if you have a liver disease

What does a needle liver biopsy involve?

You will be given medication to make you relaxed and drowsy (some patients even fall asleep during the procedure). After finding the exact location of your liver, the doctor will make a small incision in your right side, near your rib cage. You will be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds as the doctor takes out a small piece of your liver with a tiny needle. You may feel pressure in your side, and some pain, but this disappears quickly.

Although the entire procedure takes about 20 minutes, you will need to lie still on your side for up to two hours after your doctor has bandaged your incision.

How long is the recovery after a needle liver biopsy?

You will be able to leave the hospital within six hours after the biopsy. A friend or family member will need to drive you home, where you will remain in bed for 8 to 12 hours (you can get up to use the bathroom). Avoid any lifting or exertion for the next week as your body heals.

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