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What is a liver biopsy?

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A liver biopsy involves microscope examination of liver tissue for signs of damage or disease in detecting, diagnosing and treating liver conditions. A needle is used to remove a small piece of liver tissue in each of three available procedures, according to Mayo Clinic.

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In a percutaneous liver biopsy, the needle is inserted through the abdomen to obtain the liver tissue. The transjugular method uses a vein in the neck, while laparoscopic biopsies use an incision in the abdomen.

While risks include pain, bleeding, infection and accidental injury to nearby organs, liver biopsies are considered safe when performed by an experienced physician, cites Mayo Clinic.

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