Liver Biopsy (cont.)
When to Seek Immediate Medical Care after Liver Biopsy
- Pain and discomfort
These are common symptoms after biopsy. Typically, pain is localized to the
biopsy site. Sometimes, pain is felt over the whole liver. At other times, pain
is felt in the chest or in the right shoulder or right shoulder blade.
Typically, pain is mild or moderate in intensity. In most patients, no pain
medicine is needed. Some patients need a low dose of acetaminophen or a low dose
of a narcotic (for example, oxycodone) to relieve pain symptoms. Aspirin and
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are avoided because they can worsen bleeding. Typically, pain should continue to improve with every passing hour or
day. Worsening of pain or a change in the pain pattern in the hours or days
after biopsy should prompt:
- a phone call immediately to the responsible physician.
- In all likelihood,
immediate return to the emergency room to rule out a post-biopsy complication
(for example, bleeding).
As an example, the new onset of chest pain and shortness of breath should
prompt a phone call to the responsible physician and immediate return to the
- Other worrisome symptoms include:
- Dizziness or
- Shortness of breath.
- Abdominal swelling or bloating.
- These symptoms should prompt a phone call to the responsible physician and
immediate return to the emergency room.
- Swelling or redness at the biopsy site. Mild swelling or redness may be of no significance. Worsening symptoms should
prompt a phone call to the responsible physician and may necessitate an
emergency room visit.
- Fever. Fever is an uncommon symptom after liver biopsy. The occurrence of fever may
indicate the presence of infection. It should prompt a phone call to the
responsible physician and may necessitate an emergency room visit.
- Nausea or vomiting. Persistent nausea or vomiting should prompt a phone call to the responsible
physician and may necessitate an emergency room visit.
David C. Wolf, M.D., FACP, FACG, AGAF
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