A liver biopsy can be performed in an outpatient setting. In the hands of an experienced doctor, it rarely produces complications. Mild pain in the upper right abdomen that goes away within a few hours is the most common complication of a liver biopsy.
In rare cases, internal bleeding may occur, as well as a leak of the bile from the liver or gallbladder. Very occasionally, there might be a risk of a collapsed lung or pneumothorax if the biopsy needle makes a hole in the chest wall causing air entrapment.
Other uncommon complications of liver biopsy include:
- Infection that may lead to sepsis
- Hemothorax (pooling of the blood in the space between the lungs and chest wall)
- Injury to other organs
Call the physician immediately if the following symptoms are observed:
What is a liver biopsy?
A liver biopsy is a medical procedure in which a needle is inserted into the liver to remove a small piece of the liver tissue and examine it for signs of disease or damage.
There are different types of liver biopsy based on the sample of the liver tissue taken, which include:
- Percutaneous liver biopsy: In this type, the doctor inserts a needle through the skin in the upper part of the abdomen to extract a small piece of the liver tissue.
- Transjugular liver biopsy: In this type, the doctor inserts a needle into the jugular vein (vein of the neck) and passes it to the liver to extract a small piece of the tissue.
- Surgical liver biopsy: The doctor may perform a liver biopsy during other surgeries.
Why is a liver biopsy performed?
A liver biopsy is performed to identify:
How does a physician perform a liver biopsy?
The doctor performs a liver biopsy at a hospital. It may be done during surgery or in an outpatient setting.
Percutaneous liver biopsy: Doctors may use an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to find the best place to insert a needle in the abdomen. The doctor may make an opening on the right side of the abdomen and insert the special biopsy needle or biopsy gun. Next, the physician may remove a piece of the liver tissue with the biopsy needle or gun. After the biopsy, the doctor will place a bandage on the opening.
Transjugular liver biopsy: The doctor uses an ultrasound to locate the jugular vein in the neck. During the procedure, the physician may use fluoroscopy (an imaging technique) to view the veins between the neck and liver. The physician makes a cut over the side of the neck and uses a needle to make a small hole in the jugular vein. Next, the physician inserts a thin, flexible tube or catheter through the veins to the liver. A biopsy needle is guided through the catheter to remove the liver tissue. After the biopsy, the doctor closes the incision.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Serious Is a Liver Biopsy? Related Articles
Cabometyx (cabozantinib)Cabometyx (cabozantinib) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with advanced kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma) and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) who have been previously treated with the medicine sorafenib. Serious side effects of Cabometyx include bleeding (hemorrhage), a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall or fistula, blood clots, stroke, heart attack, chest pain. and others.
Carbaglu (carglumic acid)Carbaglu (carglumic acid) is a man-made form of a liver enzyme used to treat hyperammonemia, a urea cycle disorder caused by lack of a certain liver enzyme. Carbaglu is usually given with other medications to treat this lifelong disorder. Common side effects of Carbaglu include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, ear infection, changes in sense of taste, fever, infection, flu symptoms, weight loss, sleepiness, and skin rash.
Cholbam (cholic acid)Cholbam (cholic acid) is a bile acid used to treat bile acid synthesis disorders due to single enzyme defects (SEDs). It is also used for adjunctive treatment of peroxisomal disorders (PDs) including Zellweger spectrum disorders in patients who exhibit manifestations of liver disease, steatorrhea or complications from decreased fat-soluble vitamin absorption.
Doptelet (avatrombopag)Doptelet is a prescription medicine used to treat low blood platelet counts in adults with long-lasting (chronic) liver disease (CLD) or chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Serious side effects of Doptelet include blood clots.
Egaten (triclabendazole)Egaten (triclabendazole) is an anthelmintic indicated for the treatment of fascioliasis in patients 6 years of age and older. Common side effects of Egaten include abdominal pain, increased sweating, nausea, decreased appetite, headache, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, musculoskeletal chest pain, itching, and indigestion.
Nonalcoholic and Alcoholic Fatty Liver DiseaseYou can treat fatty liver disease with diet and exercise. Learn the signs and symptoms of fatty liver disease, whether it is alcoholic or nonalcoholic in origin. Find out what causes fatty liver disease, along with remedies and prevention tips.
Liver QuizDo you know the symptoms of liver disease? What is hepatitis? Take this quiz to learn about your liver and how to keep it healthy.
Givlaari (givosiran)Givlaari (givosiran) is a prescription medication used to treat adults with acute hepatic porphyria (AHP). Serious side effects of Givlaari include anaphylactic reaction, hepatic toxicity, renal toxicity, and injection site reactions.
14 Best and Worst Foods for Your LiverGet some simple diet tips to keep your liver healthy, including the best veggies to keep disease away and some snacks you'll want to avoid.
How Long Does a Liver Biopsy Procedure Take?A liver biopsy is a safe and quick procedure that takes around five minutes to complete. You may, however, be asked to lie on the bed for two hours after the procedure and take it easy for the next 24 hours.
Liver (Anatomy and Function)The liver is the largest gland and organ in the body. There are a variety of liver diseases caused by liver inflammation, scarring of the liver, infection of the liver, gallstones, cancer, toxins, genetic diseases, and blood flow problems. Symptoms of liver disease generally do not occur until the liver disease is advanced. Some symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, easy bruising, bleeding excessively, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, shortness of breath, leg swelling, impotence, and confusion. Treatment of diseases of the liver depends on the cause.
Liver BiopsyLiver biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small piece of liver tissue for examination for signs of disease or damage to the liver. Preparation for liver biopsy includes discontinuing certain medications. The techniques used to perform liver biopsy include percutaneous liver biopsy, transvenous liver biopsy, and laparoscopic liver biopsy. Recovery from liver biopsy are generally one to two days. Certain risks are associated with liver biopsy.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases, for example, gallstones, high cholesterol or triglycerides, blood flow obstruction to the liver, and toxins (medications and chemicals). Symptoms of liver disease depends upon the cause and may include nausea, vomiting, upper right abdominal pain, and jaundice. Treatment depends upon the cause of the liver disease.
Liver Disease QuizWhat is liver disease? Take the Liver Disease Quiz and test your knowledge about this organ and its function.
Liver PictureFront View of the Liver. The liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. See a picture of the Liver and learn more about the health topic.