Liver biopsy experiences

Here are some comments and accounts of liver biopsies by people that have had them.

Janet

"My biopsy was carried out by a very nervous student - I am assuming it was her first. The consultant was talking her through it, but to be honest, it felt like she was swinging a fishing rod in there! The consultant kept shouting at her to "shoot", but it felt like forever before she actually fired and took the sample. The whole procedure was very painful and distressing, and I dread the day I need another! I won't be ticking the 'I don't mind if a student mutilates me' box anytime soon ;-)"

Jo

"I had an interesting biopsy before being diagnosed. I had the junior doctor who marked an x on y skin where they thought they should do it, then another doctor came in and said that wasn't right and another x, then the third came in and told them they were both wrong !!by this time I was wondering whether we should get a 4th in just to be sure!! Strangely enough they didn't find anything and wasn't diagnosed with PSC for another 2 years!"

Shane

"I've had two biopsies and both were carried out by very skilled doctors (that what I was told anyway!) Both times they went in through the side. The area was numbed first and the doctor uses an ultrasound to guide. The procedure is very quick itself, it feels like a sharp jab in the ribs. You have to lie on your right side for 3 hrs after which is a little uncomfortable as obviously that's the side that's tender. However, you get to go home after that and are fit for normal activities again the next day. I was tender for a few days and just took some paracetamol. I've never had a colonoscopy, to me that sounds far worse than a liver biopsy. Fear of the unknown I guess! It wouldn't worry me if I had to have another biopsy as long as I trusted the doctor carrying it out."

Helen

"Had a liver biopsy, 2 technicians set up the ultrascan, I asked if I could see what was happening on the screen, so they set that up for me to see. Then someone, who didn't introduce herself and I could not see her as I had my back to her and I had been told not to move, swept in, asked me why I was there having a liver biopsy as I looked healthy, She then did the procedure, with me watching on the screen,it looked as if it was happening to someone else as it didn't hurt, the only sensation was when she inserted the probe and that didn't really hurt. Interesting to see my liver cells being slurped up. Then lay on my side for 3 hours, (slept most of the time), then went home. No problems."

John

"I've had 2 biopsies both done by consultant radiologists (though at diff hospitals) and both ultrasound guided. They were both very good. I had local anaesthetic which was like a bee sting then slight discomfort when they actually took the biopsy but bad right shoulder pain which needed pain killers. I had to stay in 6hrs post procedure, lying on side for 3hrs, and given paracetamol for shoulder pain. All in all it wasn't that bad a procedure although I did have a vasovagal after the first one and ended up with a cannula and iv fluids."

Michael

"A liver biopsy is something I always thought "I don't fancy that"! However the time eventually came for me to have one. The thought of having a needle through the side of my chest, probably between the ribs, really did not appeal.

The first place I went to was the PSC Support Facebook group to ask what a liver biopsy was like. True to form, I got loads of responses; they ranged from didn't feel a thing to being quite painful. Much as expected though, as we are all different.
I think I worked myself up a bit prior to the biopsy, but UCLH are pretty good. As I live so far away, they put me up in their 4* hotel about 100m from the hospital. I had bloods done when I arrived and I settled down to get some rest before my biopsy the following morning.

I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything for 6 hours before, and my procedure was at 11am, so really nothing from the night before. I am taking tramadol, paracetamol and Oramorph for pain relief and these make your mouth very dry, so by the time I got to the hospital I was really thirsty.

On arrival I was taken through to a bay where a nurse booked me in, taking all my details. I changed into a gown and very soon afterwards I was taken through to the ultrasound procedure room. The doctor came in an explained everything to me. It all sounded quite straightforward but as they were doing a targeted biopsy, they needed to use ultrasound to find the right spot to get the sample.

The doctor spent a while trying to compare the CT to the ultrasound. Eventually she was ready and she got the equipment sorted out. She said that she was going to give me a local anaesthetic. It stung a little to start with, but was expected. When she put some more in I felt a strange feeling across my stomach. I didn't think I was anxious but I must have been because at this point I started getting very hot and feeling faint and nauseous. My blood pressure had dropped due to a vasovagal reaction.

They quickly put in a cannula and then put in a bag of fluid. I started feeling much better - they were talking about putting me in recovery for a while but I was all for getting it finished as soon as possible.

Thankfully they did. I was told that the local would still be fine and that I would feel a bit of pressure and maybe the needle catching as it went in. I was now a bit nervous thinking, “Am I going to feel this?”

I didn't even feel the needle go in, let alone any pressure. The next thing I heard was the click from the biopsy gun. They checked to make sure they had enough and it was over!

I was taken to recovery and had to lie on my side pushing my liver up against the chest wall to help stop any bleeding; I had to stay like that for an hour. I was allowed a drink at this point and it was lovely. After another hour I moved on to my back where I had to stay for the next 5 hours! Be warned though, as I was, if you need the loo, it's a bottle or a bedpan!!! After 2 hours I was allowed to eat.

As it was a targeted biopsy I had to stay in overnight, I was so glad to get to the loo after 6 hours of lying flat on my back.
The thought of the biopsy was definitely worse than the actual biopsy. As soon as I could I was up and walking around and I was discharged early the following day. I was told to take it easy for a few days, so I did that.

All in all the experience wasn't that bad - actually much better than an ERCP!"

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