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Percutaneous Liver Biopsy

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A percutaneous liver biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of liver tissue to help diagnose liver cancer or other liver conditions.

It involves inserting a hollow tube needle through the skin into the liver to remove a small piece of tissue.

A pathologist then examines the tissue under a microscope and may perform special tests or stains to detect disorders of the liver.

Before Your Liver Biopsy

Before your test, your doctor or nurse coordinator from the UPMC Liver Cancer Center will communicate with you about:

  • The date, time, and location of your percutaneous liver biopsy
  • Any medications you may or may not take
  • Any restrictions to your diet

You will also need a blood test, prior to the biopsy, to determine how your blood is clotting.

What to Expect

The percutaneous liver biopsy is performed in the radiology department at UPMC with the use of ultrasound.

A local anesthetic is injected into the skin and abdominal wall prior to the biopsy, making the procedure relatively painless.

During the procedure:

  • The ultrasound probe is moved over the liver area to locate the best place for inserting the biopsy needle.
  • A hollow tube needle is inserted through the skin and into the liver. You may feel some pressure in the liver area when the needle is inserted.
  • A small piece of tissue is removed. If you have a liver mass, the tissue will be taken from that area of the liver.

After Your Liver Biopsy

Following the procedure:

  • A small dressing is placed over the area.
  • You will need to lie on your right side for several hours to help stop any bleeding from the biopsy site.
  • You will be able to return home the same day.

Approximately one week after the test, your doctor will notify you of the results of your percutaneous liver biopsy.