A liver biopsy is performed using a needle to harvest a sample of liver tissue; the needleis inserted between two of the lower ribs during the procedure, according to WebMD. The sample of tissue is then examined microscopically for irregularities.
Biopsies of the liver are generally undertaken to determine the cause of jaundice, since biopsies can detect cirrhosis, hepatitis and cancer of the liver. Biopsies can also determine the extent of damage caused by hepatitis or other diseases of the liver, and can be a valuable diagnostic tool in determining whether a treatment for liver disease is actually working or if medicines are causing a toxic effect on the liver.
Although there are several procedures that can be used to collect a biopsy sample, an intravenous line is usually started prior to the procedure, as stated byMayo Clinic. Ultrasound may be used to guide a needle to the liver, or a tube may be threaded down the jugular vein into the liver to obtain the sample. A laparascopic biopsy involves making small incisions in the abdomen and inserting tools for removing the sample through them. A liver biopsy isgenerally an outpatient procedure, and most patients rest for up to 4 hours after the procedure before going home.