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Patient care — surgical procedures

A liver biopsy is not a routine procedure, but is performed when it is necessary to determine the presence of liver disease and to look for malignancy, cysts, parasites, or other pathology. The actual procedure is only slightly uncomfortable. Most of the discomfort arises from being required to lie still for several hours afterwards to prevent bleeding from the biopsy site.


The liver is a pyramid-shaped organ that lies within the upper right side of the abdomen. In this procedure, a needle is inserted through the rib cage or abdominal wall and into the liver to obtain a sample for examination.

How the test is performed: The test is usually done in the hospital. You are given a sedative and pain medication by injection before the test. You will be lying on your back with your right hand under your head. It is important to be as still as possible. The health care provider will examine the liver and determine the correct spot for the biopsy needle to be inserted. The skin will be cleansed, and a small needle will be used to inject a local anesthetic to numb the area. A small incision is made, and the biopsy needle is inserted. You will then be instructed to hold your breath while the biopsy is taken. This is to reduce the chance of puncturing the lung or tearing the liver. The needle is inserted and removed quickly. Pressure will be applied to stop bleeding, and a bandage is placed over the insertion site.


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