Liver biopsy

In some cases, blood tests and scans aren’t enough to make a diagnosis and work out the exact stage of disease. So your doctor might suggest you have a liver biopsy.

Liver biopsy is done in a hospital. It usually happens within one day so you don’t need to stay overnight. You have a local anaesthetic.

During the biopsy, a doctor takes a tiny sample from your liver using a thin needle. Then a specialist doctor called a pathologist examines the sample under a microscope. They look for changes in the cells that make up your liver to help diagnose your condition.

Sometimes people have complications including bleeding but this is not common. And it can be painful or uncomfortable, so patients are usually offered pain relief. Your doctor will explain these risks and the reasons why they recommend having a liver biopsy so you can make your own decision about whether you agree (consent) to have it.