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Liver Biopsy

A liver biopsy is a procedure that involves taking a small piece of liver tissue for examination with a microscope for signs of damage or disease.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)

About Liver Biopsy

A health care provider will perform a liver biopsy to

A person prepares for a liver biopsy by

NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Cost-effectiveness of non-invasive methods for assessment and monitoring of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in patients with chronic liver disease: systematic review and economic evaluation

The study found that treating all patients with chronic hepatitis C without a prior non-invasive liver test (NILT) is cost-effective; however, recently approved interferon-free regimens were not included. For hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-negative patients, this strategy is cost-effective only if the higher cost-effectiveness threshold is appropriate. For HBeAg-positive patients, two NILTs applied sequentially were cost-effective but highly uncertain. No conclusive results could be obtained for alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Most studies evaluating non-invasive fibrosis tests had a high risk of bias.

Non-Invasive Diagnostic Assessment Tools for the Detection of Liver Fibrosis in Patients with Suspected Alcohol-Related Liver Disease: A Systematic Review and Economic Evaluation

Excessive alcohol consumption may lead to the development of alcoholrelated liver disease (ALD). Liver biopsy may be used in patients with suspected ALD to confirm the diagnosis, exclude other or additional liver pathologies, and provide accurate staging of the degree of liver injury in order to enable the prediction of prognosis and inform treatment decisions. However, as it is an invasive procedure that carries the risk of morbidity and mortality, current UK guidance recommends that biopsy is not required to confirm the diagnosis in patients with a high clinical suspicion of ALD in whom blood tests have excluded other causes of liver disease, unless it is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of acute alcoholic hepatitis in order to inform specific treatment decisions.

Transient Elastography with Suspected Fibrosis and Cirrhosis of the Liver [Internet]

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Summaries for consumers

What happens during a biopsy?

A biopsy (taking a tissue sample) is one of the most commonly used medical tests. Tissue samples can be analyzed in order to find out, for instance, whether a suspicious lump is harmless or dangerous.

Yttrium microsphere radioembolisation for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer)

Hepatocellular carcinoma (that is, primary liver cancer) is the most common malignant tumour of the liver and the fifth most common malignant tumour worldwide. In the majority of people, hepatocellular carcinoma is diagnosed at an advanced stage. For these people, treatment options include ablation therapy (which destroys the tumour), embolisation therapy (the use of substances to block or decrease the flow of blood through the hepatic artery to the tumour), radiotherapy, or sorafenib, which is a targeted therapy (a treatment that uses a substance to identify and attack cancer cells while avoiding normal cells). Yttrium microsphere radioembolisation involves the injection of very small spheres that have radioactive material attached to them into the blood supply of the tumour. The radioactivity is supposed to destroy the liver tumour without affecting other parts of the body.

Transient elastography for measurement of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in people with alcoholic liver disease

Liver fibrosis is a change in the microscopic structure of the liver because of liver inflammation. After many years of excessive alcohol consumption, liver fibrosis progresses to cirrhosis. Abstaining from alcohol may stop the fibrosis from further progression into significant or severe fibrosis and cirrhosis. The latter lead to complications of underlying diseases, including cancer.

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More about Liver Biopsy

Photo of an adult

Also called: Liver Bx

See Also: Blood Tests, Imaging Tests

Other terms to know:
Laparoscopic Biopsy, Percutaneous Liver Biopsy, Transvenous Liver Biopsy

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