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You are watching: After undergoing a liver biopsy, a client should be placed in which position?

StatPearls . Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.


Continuing education and learning Activity

Liver biopsy continues to be the gold standard in the diagnosis of numerous liver disorders. Through refinement in techniques, it has arised as a safe, valuable tool for hepatologists regulating the gamut of liver pathologies. This task describes the indications, contraindications the liver biopsy and also highlights the function of the interprofessional team in the preoperative workup of this patients.

Explain the importance of improving treatment coordination among the interprofessional team to enhance the shipment of care for patients undergoing a liver biopsy.


The very first needle biopsy that the liver was reported to have been done by Paul Ehrlich in 1883. Liver biopsy continues to be the gold standard in the diagnosis of several liver disorders.<1><2><3> with refinement in techniques, the has emerged as a safe, helpful tool for hepatologists managing the gamut that liver pathologies.


There are many indications because that liver biopsy.<4><5><6> They include diagnosis of the etiology the chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, storage diseases, unusual hepatomegaly or enzyme elevations, post-liver transplant liver-enzyme abnormalities, space-occupying lesions, intrahepatic cholestasis, and also drug-induced liver injury. Indications for liver biopsy fall into three vast categories:

Diagnosis: Liver biopsy is an important for diagnostic dilemmas: e.g., separating autoimmune hepatitis native nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in obese patients with abnormal liver role tests and positive autoimmune serology. Wilson disease is traditionally called the "great masquerader" as result of its varied presentations. Quantifying copper ~ above the liver biopsy specimen help clinch the diagnosis.  the is very useful in overlap syndromes, e.g., autoimmune hepatitis with major biliary cholangitis.  Its role in post-liver transplant setup cannot be overemphasized. That is very helpful in the testimonial of abnormal liver duty tests in the prompt post-transplant setting. Vascular pathologies or infections helps overview management, distinguishing rejection indigenous a recurrence the underlying diseases such together hepatitis C infection.  Diagnostic obstacles like differentiating cholangiocarcinoma indigenous hepatocellular cancer deserve to be made with liver biopsy in atypical cases.
Prognosis: Liver biopsy have the right to be provided as a prognostic tool for numerous diseases. In NASH, the presence of advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis has crucial prognostic considerations. Similarly, in illness such as hemochromatosis, the presence of cirrhosis predicts raised risk for occurring hepatocellular cancer. Back now mainly replaced through noninvasive markers, the visibility of fibrosis has an extremely important prognostic ramifications for patients with chronic liver illness such as hepatitis C infection.
Treatment: Liver biopsy theatre a sentinel role in patients v autoimmune hepatitis being treated v steroids and immunomodulators. The presence of histologically active an illness is associated with high hazard of relapse if therapy is stopped. There is a significant improvement in liver histology if patients room taking treatment, and also therefore, deserve to be valuable in surveillance compliance.


There space relatively few contraindications to liver biopsy.<7> many of the contraindications are loved one as they are both method and operator dependent.

Absolute Contraindications

Uncooperative patient: Patients need to be counseled thoroughly about the procedure and also informed consent taken. Uncooperative patients deserve to increase the danger of complications. If a liver biopsy is required, it can be excellent under anesthesia.

Increased danger of bleeding: In basic liver biopsy is no attempted if INR better than 1.5 or platelet counting is less than 60,000. Such patients may require convey of abnormal parameters prior to attempting biopsy.

Vascular tumors of the liver: Liver biopsy is linked with an boosted risk the bleeding in presumed vascular tumors.

Relative Contraindications

Ascites: Percutaneous biopsy is daunting and connected with boosted risk of complications in the setting of ascites. The transvenous route is preferred.

Morbid obesity: The procedure is much more difficult in morbidly obese patients as result of interference through adipose tissue. The transvenous course is preferred.


Devices: There space two species of needles: aspiration or cutting needles. Newer, automated versions of these needles are also available. 16-18 gauge needles room most commonly used. Suction v a syringe is typically used to obtain liver core tissue while utilizing aspiration needles. This can an outcome in fragmentation and inadequate specimen especially in patients with underlying cirrhosis.

Some cutting kind have a needle, and also outer cutting sheath, which once propelled past the needle cuts and traps organization within the needle hollow. Over there are much better sampling and less fragmentation of tissue by utilizing the cut technique, when the procedure is quicker with much less risk for complications making use of the aspiration technique.


Most liver biopsies are now done on an outpatient basis. However, the outpatient facility where a liver biopsy is done should ideally have straightforward provision in place for one inpatient stay, laboratory, and blood financial institution services.  consider scheduling outpatient liver biopsies in the morning so that patients have the right to be quickly monitored in the facility because that at least 4 hours following the procedure when all the support staff is easily accessible to take care of complications, if any. A brief background and physics examination space done. There is a general agreement to prevent antiplatelet and also anticoagulation medications prior to the procedure. The duration for avoiding these drugs depends on the system of activity of the medication. The indications for antiplatelet/ anticoagulation drugs should it is in reviewed prior to advising cessation of therapy. Many centers prevent these agents five days prior to the procedure. Many experts achieve a routine finish blood count through coagulation profile to ensure platelet count is within typical range, and also there is no evidence of coagulopathy. Abnormalities of the above are connected with an increased risk that post-procedure bleeding. No routine antibiotics must be given.

Patients can typically take a irradiate snack four hours before the procedure. The specialists have differing opinions around fasting duration. Anxious patients can require sedation; therefore, the much longer duration the fasting is preferred.

Written notified consent have to be taken.


There are 4 ways to execute a liver biopsy.


This have the right to be done making use of three different techniques:

Palpation/percussion  method
Real-time image-guided

Technique: The patients space made to lie in a comfortable supine position. The ideal hand is inserted under the head in a neutral position.  by percussion, the area of preferably dullness is figured out over the appropriate hemithorax. This is typically in between the 6 and also 9 intercostals spaces between the anterior and also the midclavicular line. Dullness is evidenced on both inspiration and also expiration to avoid inadvertent pneumothorax. The place of the biopsy is clearly marked.

Image-guided biopsy utilizing ultrasound potentially rises the security of the procedure and also minimizes the likelihood that obtaining inadequate specimens, but this has actually not been shown to alleviate the risk of significant complications conclusively. All patients who need liver biopsy should ideally have had an ultrasound before the biopsy to evaluate because that the visibility of Chilaiditi syndrome (presence of little bowel in between the liver and also the ab wall), intrahepatic gallbladder and focal vascular lesions such as hemangioma. The is likewise helpful in target biopsy, e.g., because that diagnosis the lesions determined in imaging studies.

The skin is prepped and draped in a sterile fashion. The overlying skin is anesthetized utilizing 1% lidocaine. The peritoneum is additionally anesthetized by inserting the needle follow me the top border of the rib preventing vascular structures.


This can be done either transjugular or transfemoral. This kind of biopsy is very useful in patient that are at high danger for symptom from percutaneous biopsy, such together those v ascites, weight problems coagulopathy, sickle hepatopathy, doubt hepatic amyloidosis, and chronic kidney disease. Also, the totally free and wedged hepatic venous pressures can be measured in ~ the exact same time, besides being able come opacify the hepatic vein, which provides this procedure really useful to diagnose and also grade the severity that sinusoidal and post-sinusoidal portal hypertension and is likewise helpful in post-transplant settings.

Technique: Interventional radiologists do this procedure under fluoroscopic guidance. The skin is anesthetized through 1% lidocaine over the puncture site, largely right inner jugular.  The internal jugular vein is accessed, a sheath introducer is inserted into the vein, and also under fluoroscopic guidance, a catheter is advanced to the level the the best hepatic vein. When the hepatic vein has actually been adequately visualized, a biopsy needle is threaded down the catheter and progressed into the liver parenchyma. Either of the above-described needles deserve to be used. Biopsies obtained via this technique are frequently thinner than with the intercostal technique. If 3 to 4 passes room obtained, biopsies often carry out adequate tissue.


This method is an extremely safe in patients with chronic liver disease. It can be done throughout surgery for various indications when the liver is discovered to it is in abnormal or in a plan manner. It allows visual investigate of the liver. The is most valuable in target biopsies that liver masses, staging tumors, and in patients uncovered to have actually inconclusive outcomes using percutaneous and transvenous methods. Peritoneal biopsies can also be taken throughout laparoscopy in patients v unexplained ascites. This is most helpful in the diagnosis the malignancy and also infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

Devices: Both cutting and aspiration form needles can be used. Also, wedge biopsies can additionally be taken.

Technique: many centers execute the procedure in the operating room. However, diagnostic laparoscopy with moderate sedation have the right to be done as an outpatient procedure now. The patient is monitored closely during the procedure, and having anesthesia help is really helpful. A Veress needle is most typically used.  The use of nitrous oxide as compared to carbon dioxide has actually improved the tolerability of the procedure.

Newer techniques expanding from herbal orifice transluminal endoscopic surgical treatment (NOTES) could be offered to do a liver biopsy.

Plugged Biopsy

This is a change of the percutaneous method that can be supplied in patient who room at high threat for bleeding (coagulopathy or thrombocytopenia). Return a transvenous biopsy have the right to be obtained in this subset of patients, the plugged technique is provided when a larger specimen dimension is desirable.

Technique: The technique is similar to the percutaneous approach, other than the biopsy street is plugged with gel foam, collagen, or thrombin if the sheath is gift removed.


Liver biopsy is a an extremely safe procedure in the hand of experienced operators.  The in its entirety rate of severe complications was approximately 1% in two big series, while in another, as whole mortality danger was estimated to be 0.2%. The usual signs of symptom requiring overnight hospital monitoring are severe abdominal muscle or shoulder pointer pain no relieved with one sheep of parenteral analgesic, hypotension, or tachycardia following the procedure.<8>


This is the most common complication after liver biopsy. It have the right to be viewed in approximately 84% the the patients. The is most common at the website of the biopsy or the ideal shoulder (this frequently indicates a subcapsular hematoma), or both. In most patients, it is usually regulated with analgesics. Serious persistent pain need to alert the doctor to inspection serious causes of pain like bile peritonitis, hemorrhage. The patient may require admission and radiological assessment.


The risk of fatal hemorrhage in patients there is no malignant condition is 0.04%, and the danger of nonfatal hemorrhage is 0.16%. In those through malignancy, the threat of nonfatal hemorrhage is 0.4% and 0.57% for nonfatal hemorrhage. Three varieties of bleeding have the right to be seen:

Free intraperitoneal bleed: This deserve to be second to liver laceration with deep breathing during the intercostal procedure, perforation the distended portal or hepatic veins or aberrant arteries, or inadvertent puncture of a significant intrahepatic blood vessel. The patient usually existing with hemodynamic instability, severe abdominal pain, and a quick drop in hemoglobin. The is command to recognize this complication early. The patient have to be admitted, resuscitated, and both a interventional radiology and surgeon have to be consulted.  Angiographic embolization is usually effective in controlling the bleeding, but in rarely cases, operation intervention might be required, an especially in the transplant patient who carries a higher risk for major bile duct injury v arterial embolization. Hardly ever bleeding can be intrathoracic indigenous an intercostal artery.
Intrahepatic/subcapsular hematoma: These can be seen also in asymptomatic patients. Bleeding typically presents v pain, tachycardia, and also a mild drop in hemoglobin through the climb in serum transaminases.  If large, they can cause right top quadrant tenderness and hepatomegaly, and also appear as triangular hyper dense segments in the arterial step of CT scan. Most patients deserve to be controlled with conservative treatment, and radiological or surgical treatment is seldom required.
Hemobilia:  It typically presents with the classical triad of gastrointestinal bleeding, biliary pain, and also jaundice. The bleeding is usually arterial in origin yet can it is in venous in patients with preexisting portal hypertension. It have the right to vary in severity from the occult to exsanguinating hemorrhage. Hemobilia seldom presents acutely and most commonly presents ~ a median of 5 days through the gradual erosion the a biopsy-induced hematoma or pseudoaneurysm right into the bile duct. The presentation can vary native hemodynamically far-ranging bleeding come chronic anemia.  Imaging or endoscopy have the right to make a diagnosis. Treatment relies on the severity the the bleed. Hemodynamically significant radiologic treatment may be required. ERCP can be required in some instances to remove clotted blood indigenous the bile duct, leading to obstruction and also cholangitis.

Transient Bacteremia

This is normally clinically insignificant other than in patients with obstructive jaundice like major sclerosing cholangitis or in the post-transplant setting. Currently, there is no referral for treating with prophylactic antibiotics and also treatment have the right to be available on a instance by instance basis.

Bile Peritonitis

This can occur with the inadvertent puncture that the gallbladder or in patients through obstructive jaundice and also dilated bile ducts. It commonly presents with ab pain, fever, leukocytosis. That can additionally be painless in part patients. Biliary scintigraphy displayed the leak. Treatment is usually with fluids and antibiotics. Very rarely, endoscopic measures like ERCP or surgery might be required.


Cardiovascular complications, particularly in patients with preexisting heart disease, arteriovenous fistula, pneumothorax, are other rare reported complications. Carcinoid crisis can take place after the percutaneous biopsy. 

Clinical Significance

Post Biopsy Considerations

Patient factors: The patience is usually preserved in the right decubitus position. The duration of monitoring varies across centers varying from 1 hour come 6 hours. The American Association for the research of Liver conditions guidelines recommends observation for 2 come 4 hours. The critical signs space monitored every 15 minutes for the first hour, every 30 minutes because that the next hour and hourly it rotates discharge. Many complications of liver biopsy usually occur within the very first 1 come 3 hours after biopsy or within 24 hours. Therefore the patient should have actually a dependent individual to remain overnight after ~ the procedure. The patient should be hospitalized if there are any complications connected with the procedure, consisting of pain the requires much more than one sheep of analgesia in ~ the an initial 4 hrs of observation following the procedure.

Adequacy the specimen:  Liver diseases can it is in patchy; therefore, biopsy specimens might not it is in representative that the underlying pathology. It is vital that the liver biopsy specimen be adequate to permit detailed interpretation. This way that the biopsy have to be large enough to see a representative lot of parenchyma and variety of portal tracts. The number of portal tracts is proportional to biopsy size. Obtaining much more than one core increases the diagnostic yield, yet at the cost of enhanced complications. Biopsies taken through a 16-gauge needle an outcome in bigger specimen sizes. Most professionals agree the a specimen v 11 portal tracts and about 3 cm long is adequate for evaluation. If an adequate specimen is not obtained after two passes, an different approach need to be considered. Thus, long and wide (ideal dimension is 3 cm long after formalin fixation obtained with a 16-gauge needle) biopsies room desirable. A cutting needle is preferable to a suction needle if the medical professional suspects cirrhosis.

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Although number of noninvasive mite are currently available, histological testimonial of the liver will proceed to remain an essential tool in assessing disease. The is a safe procedure in the hand of professional operators v relatively few complications.

Enhancing healthcare Team Outcomes

A liver biopsy may be perform by the radiologist, gastroenterologist, or basic surgeon. When the procedure is reasonably safe, the patient demands to it is in monitored by the nurse afterward. The key complication is bleeding, i m sorry can current up to 24 hours after the procedure. In the restore room, the nurse have to monitor the an essential signs, ab distension, and also degree that pain. Fortunately, in many cases, liver bleeding does prevent spontaneously. One interprofessional teach technique will carry out the best outcome and safest care of the patient.