A liver biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose liver disease by a liver specialist. The liver is a large glandular organ on the right side of the body, located beneath the ribs. It is responsible for various vital functions, including toxin removal, digestion, storage, and protein synthesis. Numerous diseases, such as viral hepatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancers, can affect the liver. Continue reading to learn more about liver biopsy, including the procedure, advantages, and more as Dr Gaurav Gupta explains liver biopsy in this article.
Dr Gaurav Gupta is one of the best Liver Transplant Surgeons in Mumbai.
What is a Biopsy of the Liver?
A liver biopsy is a surgical procedure used to diagnose problems with the liver. A biopsy of your liver tissue is taken and analyzed under a microscope for signs of disease or injury.
A liver biopsy will reveal the presence of cancer cells or other abnormal cells in your liver. It can also indicate how well your liver is working.
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Liver Biopsies Types
1) Percutaneous Liver Biopsy
It is the most common method for determining the presence of liver disease. To help you relax, your surgeon may use a local anesthetic or give you medicine through an IV. Your surgeon will insert a small needle into your liver and will take a sample.
2) Laparoscopic Biopsy
Your surgeon will administer a general anesthetic. A thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) will also be inserted into your skin through a small cut by the surgeon. The tube has a miniature video camera that shows the inside of the stomach on a computer screen. The surgeon observes the screen before inserting the needle into another tube to remove the sample.
3) Transjugular Liver Biopsy
If you have blood clotting issues or stomach fluid, a liver specialist will use this type of biopsy. To make an incision into a vein in your neck, your doctor will administer a local anesthetic. A catheter is inserted into the vein and down to the liver by the doctor. The doctor will then inject a contrast dye into the catheter and perform X-rays. On X-rays, the dye makes the vein visible. The needle enters your liver through the catheter. Your doctor will use the catheter to remove the tissue samples.
The biopsy may be performed in the radiology unit if your surgeon requests a sample from a specific part of your liver. Your surgeon will carry out the process with the help of an imaging test such as:
- Ultrasound- It is a type of imaging that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images.
- MRI – It creates images using a combination of large magnets, radio waves, and a computer.
- CT scans- Combines X-rays and computer technology to produce images of the body’s organs and tissues.
What Are the Benefits of a Liver Biopsy?
Your surgeon utilizes a liver biopsy to determine if you have a liver disease that signs or lab tests cannot diagnose. A liver specialist may recommend a biopsy if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A swollen liver
- Lab tests that are abnormal and indicate liver disease
- The skin and eyes turn a yellowish color (jaundice)
A liver biopsy can also help to see if you have any of the following conditions:
- Autoimmune hepatitis– Liver inflammation.
- Wilson liver disease – Caused by a buildup of copper in the liver.
- Liver tumor – A mass of tissue or an abnormal lump.
- Non-alcoholic liver disease – Fat accumulation in the liver causes this disease.
- Fibrosis of the liver – The scar tissue growth because of inflammation, infection, or injury.
Before undergoing a liver biopsy, there are a few things you should do.
- Your doctor may advise you to refrain from taking certain medications or supplements.
- Your doctor will require a blood test to determine whether or not you have blood clotting issues.
- Your doctor will prescribe medication to prevent excessive bleeding in such cases.
- Before the procedure, your doctor may advise you to fast for 6 to 8 hours.
What is the procedure for a liver biopsy?
- Your specialist uses a biopsy needle to remove liver tissue, which is a simple procedure.
- For 10 to 15 minutes, your doctor will perform the biopsy in the OPD.
- The doctor performs an ultrasound to determine the exact location of your liver. So, the doctor will have you lie down on the treatment.
- After administering local anesthesia, your doctor will perform a biopsy.
After a liver biopsy, what happens next?
You will probably feel some discomfort at the biopsy site, as well as a nagging pain in your shoulder or back.
For the next few hours, the specialists will monitor you in the recovery room.
The specialists will prescribe you pain relievers. Further, they will advise you to avoid physical exertion for the next few days.
The following are the risks associated with a liver biopsy:
- There is some bleeding and some discomfort.
- A punctured lung or pneumothorax.
- An accident that caused an injury to the gallbladder, intestines, or kidney.