Gastroenterology

Liver Biopsy

A liver biopsy is a procedure that enables your physician to obtain a piece of liver tissue for analysis.

Plan to do in advance

Medications, Vitamins and Supplements:
To properly prepare for your procedure, you may need to make certain changes to your daily medication routine.

  • If you take insulin, consult with your physician about making any necessary changes in you daily regimen.
  • If you take medications that contain aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Motrin, Advil, Indocin, or Feldene), we recommend that you stop taking them seven days before your procedure. They may increase your risk of bleeding after removal of a polyp or a biopsy during your upper endoscopic ultrasound by interfering with the normal clotting of your blood.
  • If you are currently taking Coumadin or Heparin, you must check with your prescribing physician before changing or interrupting your daily routine.
  • Your routine oral medications can be taken with a small sip of water the morning of your procedure.

In addition to changes to your medication:

  • Bring a list of all your medications (prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and eye drops) with you on the day of your procedure. You may bring the medication bottles themselves.
  • Be prepared to list and describe your ALLERGIES and REACTIONS to any medications.

Because you may receive a relaxing medication during your procedure, you must arrange to have a responsible adult pick you up and/or accompany you home if you taking public transportation. You will need to spend several hours at the hospital to allow time for your preparation, your examination and your recovery. You may not operate an automobile or other mechanical equipment until the day following your procedure.

University of Pennsylvania Health System policy requires that you make these arrangements, or your procedure will not be performed.

On the day before your procedure

It is important that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your procedure. The exception is medication taken with a small sip of water.

On the day of your procedure

On the day of your liver biopsy, please come directly to the requested location at your scheduled arrival time and check in with the receptionist. Plan to spend several hours at the unit to allow time for your preparation, your procedure, and your recovery.

Before the procedure, a nurse will greet you and assist you with changing into a hospital gown. An IV may be placed in your arm. After being positioned on your back, the biopsy area will be disinfected and a local anesthetic will be administered by the physician to numb the area. The biopsy needle will be passed through your right side about one inch into the surface of the liver. A Band-Aid is then applied to the site. This takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

Some patients experience pain at the biopsy site which may require pain medication.

After your procedure

After the liver biopsy, you will be taken to the recovery area where your vital signs will be monitored frequently.

You will be turned on your right side from one to two hours after the liver biopsy and will need to remain in bed an additional two to four hours after that. Most patients go home after four to six hours of observation.

You will receive discharge instructions on the day of the test. Biopsy results will take 7-10 days to process. The physician will discuss biopsy results and treatment in the office.

If you would like to speak to a nurse regarding your procedure or preparation, or if you need to reschedule your procedure, please call the appropriate number:

  • Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
    Procedure questions: 215-662-2122
    To reschedule: 215-349-8222
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center
    All questions: 215-662-8900

These instructions apply to patients scheduled for procedures at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. However, your doctor may give you different instructions or procedures. If you have questions about your procedure, contact your physician at the Digestive & Liver Center.