Certain abnormalities of the liver can only be diagnosed with direct examination of liver tissue. In this case, a liver biopsy will be performed.
The biopsy is done in the hospital by a radiologist. After local anesthetic is applied, a needle is inserted into the liver and a small core of tissue is obtained under the guidance of CT scan or ultrasound. There may be local discomfort from the needle stick.
The patient usually stays in the hospital for a few hours for observation. Possible complications include bleeding and low blood pressure. These are minimized by checking clotting tests before performing the test under radiologic (either CT scan or ultrasound) guidance. The patient may experience soreness at the site of penetration for a few days.
A few weeks after the procedure, the patient schedules a follow-up office visit with the doctor to discuss the results.