A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue or fluid within the body is removed and examined in the laboratory.
A percutaneous liver biopsy is a procedure in which a long needle is passed into the liver through the skin and overlying tissues to obtain a tissue sample.
Your doctor may recommend percutaneous liver biopsy if clinical findings or test results suggest you might have a liver disease. A biopsy may be done to help diagnose certain liver conditions such as hepatitis (infection), alcoholic liver disease, and tumors (abnormal mass of tissue). Percutaneous liver biopsy is also performed to assess treatment for liver disease and to monitor the function of a transplanted liver.
Percutaneous liver biopsy is performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. An ideal site for biopsy is identified and confirmed by ultrasound imaging. The imaging results are used to guide the biopsy needle into the targeted area. The skin over the site is sterilized and anesthetized. The biopsy needle attached to a syringe filled with saline is introduced into the precise location. You may be instructed to exhale and hold your breath for a few seconds to avoid injury to the lungs and gallbladder as the needle is inserted. The tissue sample is drawn into the saline-filled syringe and the needle withdrawn. Pressure is applied to the biopsy site for a few minutes after which a bandage is placed. You will lie on your right side for two hours after the procedure. You will be closely monitored for a few hours before returning home.
A percutaneous liver biopsy, as with any invasive procedure, may be associated with certain complications such as pain at the biopsy site or in the right shoulder (referred pain). You may be prescribed medications to help relieve pain and discomfort.
Other complications include bleeding, infection and injury to the lungs or gallbladder.