Liver Biopsy

Your doctor has referred you for a liver biopsy.  The procedure involves passing a needle into the liver to obtain a tissue sample to be examined under the microscope.  In some instances of liver disease, the only way to understand what kind of liver problem is occuring is to obtain a liver biopsy



You should not eat or drink anything after midnight the day prior to the procedure.  Medications should be taken on the day of the test.  I f you are taking INSULIN take only ½ your normal insulin dose on the morning of the exam. DO NOT take your DIABETES PILL on the morning of the exam.  You are to avoid any product containing aspirin or any aspirin like products (Motrin ® , Aleve ® , Advil ® , etc.) for 1 week prior to the procedure. Contact your physician for any questions. Please check your blood sugar at home before coming for the test.


How the Examination is Performed:

On the day of the procedure, please arrive at the clinic approximately 45 minutes prior to your scheduled time.  If you do not have a current University Hospital (yellow) card, you must register on the C-Level at the Registration Desk.  Once you have a yellow card, you should go to E-178 [Medical Special Procedures] and sign in with the receptionist.  You will be brought into the examining room and a nurse will explain the procedure to you.  Your consent will be obtained.  You will be asked to change into a gown.  The physician will speak with you and examine you briefly.

The most common way a liver sample is obtained is by inserting a needle into the liver for a fraction of a second. The physician determines the best site, depth, and angle of the needle puncture by physical examination or ultrasound. The skin and area under the skin are anesthetized, and a needle is passed quickly into and out of the liver. Approximately half of individuals have no pain afterwards, while another half will experience brief localized pain that may spread to the right shoulder.  You will be required to lie on your right side for approximately one hour and then you will be monitored for an additional 3 hours.  Afterwards, the patient will be allowed to go home the same day.


Risks of Liver Biopsy:

The primary risk of liver biopsy is bleeding from the site of needle entry into the liver, although this occurs in less than 1% of patients. Other possible complications include the puncture of other organs, such as the kidney, lung or colon. Biopsy, by mistake, of the gallbladder rather than the liver may be associated with leakage of bile into the abdominal cavity, causing peritonitis. Fortunately, the risk of death from liver biopsy is extremely low, ranging from 0.1% to 0.01%.  If you have any problems after your liver biopsy, please notify the physician who performed this examination by calling (973) 972-6077.