What is a Liver Biopsy?

A liver biopsy is a tiny sample of liver tissue removed with a specially designed thin needle. The tissue is then prepared and stained in a laboratory, so the physician can view it under a microscope. This helps the physician make a specific diagnosis and determine the extent and seriousness of the condition. It is vital information for determining treatment. Liver biopsies are sometimes called percutaneous liver biopsies, because the tissue sample is obtained by going through the patient's skin.


Percutaneous liver biopsy is sometimes called aspiration biopsy or fine-needle aspiration because it is done with a hollow needle attached to a suction syringe. The amount of specimen collected is about 0.03-0.7 fl oz (1-2 cc). In many cases, the biopsy is done by a radiologist; however Dr. Siddiqui is trained in this procedure. The radiologist/doctor will use an ultrasound or CT to guide the needle to the target site for the biopsy.


A liver biopsy is usually done to evaluate the extent of damage that has occurred to the liver because of chronic and acute disease processes or toxic injury. Biopsies are often performed to identify abnormalities in liver tissues after other techniques have failed to yield clear results. In patients with chronic hepatitis C a liver biopsy may be used to assess the patient's prognosis and help to determine proper treatment.


A liver biopsy may be ordered to diagnose or stage any of the following conditions or disorders: