Ultrasound Liver Biopsy
During an ultrasound liver biopsy, your doctor removes a small piece of liver tissue so it can be examined with a microscope for signs of damage or disease. These biopsies are done when blood tests, x-rays or traditional ultrasounds can’t adequately diagnose a liver problem. This is an invasive procedure that has a small risk of complications, and should only be done when the patient will benefit from it.
During the procedure, the doctor uses ultrasound images to help guide the biopsy needle through the patient’s abdomen and into the liver.
Preparation for an Ultrasound-Guided Liver Biopsy
You should discuss all medications you take and any allergies with your doctor well in advance of the procedure. Your doctor will tell you which medicines to continue taking, and which ones to stop taking before the biopsy.
You will need to fast before the biopsy—don’t eat or drink anything for about eight hours before the procedure. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about how and when to fast.
Your doctor may need blood tests completed before the day of your procedure.
On the day of the biopsy: you will be asked questions about your health and medical history, have your vital signs taken, and have an intravenous (IV) needle placed in a vein in your arm.
During an Ultrasound-Guided Liver Biopsy
You will lie on your back on an exam table, and gel that improves the conductance of sound waves will be painted on your stomach. Then, a small transducer will be positioned on your stomach. This causes no pain, but you could feel some pressure. The doctor will then use ultrasound to find the best place on your stomach to insert the needle into your liver.
Your doctor will cleanse your stomach skin and put surgical draping around it. The site for the biopsy will be numbed. The doctor will use a special instrument with a needle on it to take the liver sample. There may be a noise from the instrument when the doctor takes the sample.
After the Ultrasound-Guided Liver Biopsy
You will rest until you have recovered from the sedative or anesthesia you received, and the discharged to go home. You may feel some discomfort where the puncture was done, with some pain that radiates to the shoulder.
Do not try to drive home by yourself. You need to arrange for someone else to drive you home, and you should not plan to work for the rest of the day.
It usually takes several days for the liver tissue sample to be evaluated in a laboratory using a microscope. Your doctor will contact you to discuss the results.
Possible Complications of an Ultrasound-Guided Liver Biopsy
Complications are uncommon, but may include pain, pneumothorax and bleeding in or around the liver.
Where Is This Performed?
Palo Alto Medical Foundation offers a state-of-the-art endoscopy testing facility to screen for gastrointestinal problems. We operate with a highly-trained support staff of nurses and surgical technicians.
Palo Alto Center
795 El Camino Real
Level 3, Lee Building
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Department phone: 650-853-2985
Main phone: 650-321-4121
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
3200 Kearney Street
Level 2, Building 2
Fremont, CA 94538
Main phone: 510-490-1222
Call for an appointment.
San Carlos Center
301 Industrial Road
San Carlos, CA 94070
Phone: (650) 596-4130
Call for an appointment.
Mountain View Center
701 E. El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
Main phone: 650-934-7000
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
2850 Commercial Crossing
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
Main phone: 831-460-7350
Office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.