What is a liver biopsy?
A liver biopsy is a medical procedure in which a needle is inserted into the liver to remove a small piece of the liver tissue and examine it for signs of disease or damage.
There are different types of liver biopsy based on the sample of the liver tissue taken, which include:
- Percutaneous liver biopsy: In this type, the doctor inserts a needle through the skin in the upper part of the abdomen to extract a small piece of the liver tissue.
- Transjugular liver biopsy: In this type, the doctor inserts a needle into the jugular vein (vein of the neck) and passes it to the liver to extract a small piece of the tissue.
- Surgical liver biopsy: The doctor may perform a liver biopsy during other surgeries.
How does a physician perform a liver biopsy?
The doctor performs a liver biopsy at a hospital. It may be done during surgery or in an outpatient setting.
Percutaneous liver biopsy: Doctors may use an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan to find the best place to insert a needle in the abdomen. The doctor may make an opening on the right side of the abdomen and insert the special biopsy needle or biopsy gun. Next, the physician may remove a piece of the liver tissue with the biopsy needle or gun. After the biopsy, the doctor will place a bandage on the opening.
Transjugular liver biopsy: The doctor uses an ultrasound to locate the jugular vein in the neck. During the procedure, the physician may use fluoroscopy (an imaging technique) to view the veins between the neck and liver. The physician makes a cut over the side of the neck and uses a needle to make a small hole in the jugular vein. Next, the physician inserts a thin, flexible tube or catheter through the veins to the liver. A biopsy needle is guided through the catheter to remove the liver tissue. After the biopsy, the doctor closes the incision.