A liver biopsy is a procedure that’s used to take a tissue sample to diagnose a condition. The procedure involves a needle that is inserted between the lower, right ribs. The tissue collected is sent to a laboratory. A microscope is used to look for signs of problems that need to be treated.
Reasons to Get a Liver Biopsy
There are many reasons that a doctor may recommend a liver biopsy. They include:
- Jaundice – This procedure may be used to find the cause of jaundice. It can identify conditions like cirrhosis as well as tumors and infections.
- Abnormal Blood Test – If you have abnormal blood test results, then a liver biopsy may be required. This is usually recommended due to results from alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) tests that are used to show liver damage and disease.
- Hepatitis – A liver biopsy may be used to determine the level of scarring and inflammation caused by hepatitis.
- Treatment Response & Toxicity – This test can also show whether a treatment is working or if a medication is having a toxic effect.
- Transplant Functionality – After a liver transplant, a biopsy may be done to determine if the organ is functioning properly.
- Liver Mass – When a mass is found through X-rays, CT scans, or ultrasounds, a biopsy may be performed.
Getting Ready for a Liver Biopsy
Make sure you tell your doctor if you are taking any medications like blood thinners, antiplatelet drugs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Be thorough and include any heart medications and herbal supplements. Also make sure your doctor is aware of conditions such as:
- History of bleeding problems
- Pregnancy or if you may become pregnant
- Recent pneumonia
- History of belly fluid buildup
If you have questions about liver biopsies, contact your gastroenterologist. They can provide advice and recommendations for preparing and completing tests and treatment options.