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Liver Biopsy (cont.)

When to Seek Immediate Medical Care after Liver Biopsy

  1. 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 emergency room.

  1. Other worrisome symptoms include:
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Nausea or vomiting. Persistent nausea or vomiting should prompt a phone call to the responsible physician and may necessitate an emergency room visit.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2013
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