Liver Biopsy Procedure in NYC
What is a liver biopsy?
A liver biopsy is performed to help aid your doctor in identifying the cause of liver problems you may be experiencing. During the procedure, your doctor will collect a small sample of tissue from the liver for testing. Biopsies can be used to diagnose a variety of liver diseases and conditions, such as hepatitis.
Why is a liver biopsy performed?
A liver biopsy procedure is generally performed when a patient has received several liver function tests (LFTs) that have come back with abnormal results.
A liver biopsy may also be performed if a patient is suffering from symptoms that may indicate a liver disease, including:
- Skin or eyes that appear yellow (jaundice)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Ongoing, unexplained fevers
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pale, bloody or tar-colored stool
- Dark urine color
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Itchy skin
- Bruising easily
A liver biopsy test may be used to diagnose or evaluate pre-existing liver diseases such as:
- Hepatitis B or C
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Hemochromatosis (iron overload)
- Wilson’s disease (copper overload)
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Liver cancer
What does a liver biopsy involve?
In preparation for a liver biopsy, you will need to tell your doctor about all of your regular medications at least one week prior to your procedure. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications if they can interfere with your blood’s ability to clot. Medications that can interfere with clotting include NSAID pain relievers, asthma medications, and blood thinners. The day of your liver biopsy, you should not eat or drink for eight hours prior to the procedure. You will also need to arrange for someone to escort you home from the procedure.
When you arrive at our NYC gastroenterology center for your procedure, you will be given a blood test to ensure that your blood is able to clot properly. In certain cases, you may also undergo an ultrasound to determine the best area to insert the needle for your liver biopsy. The procedure itself takes only a few seconds. A needle is inserted, and a small piece of liver tissue is removed. This tissue is then sent to the lab so that it can be examined and the cause of any liver dysfunction can be determined. The entire procedure should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
Following a liver biopsy, you will rest at our facility for several hours so that our staff can monitor your blood pressure and heart rate. You will be given instructions for continuing your recovery at home. Usually, you will be prohibited from work or heavy exertion for a day or two after your liver biopsy. Once your doctor receives the results of your biopsy, treatment options can be discussed.
If you believe you may need a liver biopsy, the first step is to consult with a skilled NYC gastroenterologist. Gramercy Park Digestive Disease Center (GPDDC) is home to top board-certified gastroenterology physicians, with extensive experience in digestive disease diagnosis and treatment. Call (212) 979-3237 or use the form on this page to learn more about our GI services and treatments.