What Does Liver Biopsy Involve? Part 1

/ May 2nd, 2012/ Posted in Cancer / Comments Off on What Does Liver Biopsy Involve? Part 1

Q.My son, 51, has been told he has fatty tissue around his liver and a biopsy is needed. Exactly what is the procedure for a liver biopsy?


A.A liver biopsy is often done as a follow-up to blood tests or imaging tests (ultrasound, CT scan, MRI) indicating possible liver abnormalities. The procedure, in which doctors remove a tiny piece of the liver for laboratory analysis, may be done in one of three ways.

A.The oldest method simply involves locating the position of the liver on the right side of the abdomen, giving the patient local anesthesia and then placing a needle directly into the liver through the skin between two ribs on the right side. This procedure takes only a few minutes and is safe if done by an experienced doctor. If a patient is anxious, IV sedatives may be given before this procedure.

A newer method of liver biopsy is done using laparoscopy, which involves making a small incision in the abdomen and inserting a flexible tube through which doctors can manipulate a tiny camera and surgical equipment. Although this takes longer than needle biopsy, the laparoscopic camera enables doctors to actually view the liver and remove tissue samples only from those areas that look abnormal.

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