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What Is a Liver Biopsy?

Clip Number: 3 of 3
Presentation: Liver Biopsy
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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A liver biopsy is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from your liver, and then studied under a microscope to check for signs of liver inflammation and damage.
On the day of the biopsy, you will change into a hospital gown, and may be taken to a special room in the hospital where the procedure will be done. You will be asked to lie on your back, or slightly on your left side. Your healthcare provider will locate your liver -- either by tapping your ribcage on the right side or by using an ultrasound sensor. He or she will then use a small needle to deliver medicine that will numb the skin near the biopsy site. A longer biopsy needle will then be inserted to quickly remove a small piece of tissue from your liver. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to breathe, or even ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds as this is done.
As we mentioned earlier, the sample of tissue taken during the biopsy will be studied for signs of liver damage. It will take a few days for you to get the results back. Your liver will take several days to completely heal from the procedure, so during this time it's important to avoid strenuous activity.
While a liver biopsy is considered to be a safe procedure, there are still risks involved, including a small risk of bleeding. If you need to have a liver biopsy, your healthcare provider will review these risks with you in more detail.
 

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