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Primary Sclerosing
Cholangitis Trust
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About PSC

the liver & treatment
URSO & Questran
related conditions
ulcerative colitis
low fat
clear liquids
crohn's disease
fibre restricted
anal fissure, abscess & fistula
rectal bleeding
related procedures
liver biopsy
liver transplant

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Liver Biopsy

Evaluating a Liver Condition
The consultant will always take a medical history and perform a physical exam. Blood studies, known as liver function tests (LFT), give an overview of the health of the liver. If LFT results are persistently abnormal, the consultnat will then perform additional medical tests to determine the exact cause of the problem sometimes a liver biopsy helps answer this question.

What is a Biopsy?
A biopsy is a tiny sample of body tissue - in this case, liver tissue. The tissue is prepared and stained in a laboratory to be viewed under a microscope.

The Procedure
Sometimes, an ultrasound or echo machine is used to identify the best location to make the biopsy. The patient lies on their back or slightly to the left side. That area of the skin where the biopsy will be done is carefully sterilised. Then, a local anesthetic agent is used to numb the skin and tissue below. A specially designed thin needle is inserted through the skin. At this point, the patient is told how to breathe. The needle is advanced into and out of the liver. This takes only 1 or 2 seconds. A slender core of tissue is removed with the needle, and is then processed through the laboratory. The entire procedure from start to finish lasts only 15 to 20 minutes.

The patient is kept at rest for several hours following the exam. Medical personnel check the heart rate and blood pressure during this time. There may be some discomfort in the chest or shoulder, however, this is usually temporary. Medication is available for this discomfort, if needed. Before being discharged, the patient is given instructions about returning to normal activities and about eating. Activity is usually restricted for a day or so after the biopsy. However, the procedure does not require a long recovery period.

In most instances, a liver biopsy is obtained quickly with no problems. Occasionally, some discomfort in the right side or shoulder is experienced and internal bleeding can sometimes occur as well as a leak of bile from the liver or gallbladder. These problems are rare and can usually be handled without the need for surgery.

A liver biopsy is a simple, rapid method of obtaining a sample of liver for analysis. It provides important information for evaluating and treating liver disorders. While some complications can occur, they are unusual. The benefits of the exam always outweigh the risk.