Font Size

Liver Biopsy (cont.)

Percutaneous Liver Biopsy

The word "percutaneous" means "through the skin." Percutaneous liver biopsies are typically performed by physicians who specialize in gastroenterology/hepatology, interventional radiology or surgery. Traditionally, biopsies were performed using a "blind" technique. With this technique, the physician percusses (i.e. taps) the skin overlying the chest and abdominal wall over the liver in order to identify an optimal site for biopsy. Typically, the site is located between the 8th and 9th ribs on the patient's right side or located below the edge of the rib cage in the right upper abdomen. At present, many physicians use ultrasound to confirm the ideal site to perform the biopsy.

As noted above, the diagnosis of a mass lesion may require the performance of a so-called "guided" biopsy. In guided biopsy, the patient undergoes an ultrasound or CT scan to identify the location of the mass. The physician performing the biopsy, typically an interventional radiologist, uses the results of the scan to guide the biopsy needle into the mass. Typically, the technique for CT-guided biopsy of a mass lesion entails:

  • The patient lies upon the CT table.
  • An abdomen CT scan is performed to identify the location of the liver mass.
  • The patient is gently sedated.
  • The interventional radiologist disinfects and anesthetizes the skin over the planned biopsy site.
  • The liver biopsy needle is introduced into the skin.
  • When the tip of the needle is confirmed to be directed towards the mass, the actual biopsy of the mass is performed.
  • The biopsy needle is removed.
  • The patient is sent to the recovery room.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/20/2015
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Liver Biopsy

Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a scarring of the learn more >>
Fatty Liver
Fatty Liver Disease Fatty liver disease (NASH, NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic related steatohepatitis) is a disease where by there is an increased accumul...learn more >>
Hemochromatosis (Iron Overload) Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH, iron overload) is a genetic disorder in which excess iron is retained in the body. Hemochromatosis may affect several organs in ...learn more >>

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Percutaneous Liver Biopsy »

Percutaneous liver biopsy is a procedure in which a long needle is introduced through the skin, subcutaneous tissues, intercostal muscles, and peritoneum into the liver to obtain a specimen of liver tissue.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary