Liver biopsy

Researcher in lab

This test removes a sample of cells from your liver by using a needle. It can diagnose liver cancer. The needle can be put into your liver:

  • Through the skin (percutaneous)
  • Into a vein, using an ultrasound scan to guide it (transvenous)
  • Through 2 or 3 small cuts in your tummy, using keyhole surgery (laparoscopic)

Before the test

You won’t be able to eat or drink for a few hours before the test if you are having sedation. Your hospital team will tell you when you need to stop eating and drinking.

You will have blood tests before the biopsy to check that your blood is clotting properly. You will need to stop taking any medications that might interfere with blood clotting.

Will I have pain relief / anaesthetic?

You can have a sedative to relax you before the test. If you are having a laparoscopic biopsy you will have a general anaesthetic.

After the test

You will need to stay in hospital for about 6 hours afterwards to recover from the sedation / anaesthetic and so that your doctors can watch for any bleeding that may happen. You may need to stay overnight in hospital.

If you have had sedation you won’t be able to drive for 24 hours, so you should arrange a lift home.

The sample will be sent to a laboratory to be examined. The results will take a few days to come back.

Are there any side-effects or risks?

There is a risk of excessive bleeding, called haemorrhage. Some people may have a little abdominal pain or right shoulder pain after the biopsy. Your doctor will talk to you about possible side-effects.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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