Katie shares her experience of having a liver biopsy
I've learnt to be 100% honest with the nurses
I arrived for my appointment at 8:30am. I was taken to the ward, set up in a bed bay and one of the nurses filled in a booklet while asking me questions about allergies etc. This is the first time I've been in hospital longer than a colonoscopy appointment and I've never had to stay in a bed longer than 10 minutes after a procedure, so I was nervous but I've learnt to be 100% honest with how I'm feeling with the nurses. They were wonderful and helped me relax!
Another nurse then came to put a cannula in and take some bloods (the usuals, plus a blood clotting test). This bit was a bit pants as my veins suddenly gave up and she had to try three times before getting the tube in. Another nurse held my hand throughout and chatted to me, which made it 10 times easier. I then changed into a hospital gown and chilled on my bed for what felt like ages
The radiology consultant then came through to explain the procedure, what she would do if anything went wrong (this bit did worry me and you expect it will all go wrong but as I'll explain later, everything went perfectly) and got me to sign a consent form.
Do anything and everything that will comfort you
I was then wheeled to an ultrasound room and another nurse looked after me while the consultant set my side up. She explained every step, making sure I knew exactly what was going on. I laid down flat and put my right arm above my head, with the nurse holding my hand (do anything and everything that will comfort you! There's no judgement and they want to make you as calm as possible).
First, the consultant did an ultrasound to check my liver and work out where she would go in - as always, the gel was freezing! The consultant then explained that a big click would come from the needle, so I wouldn't be shocked when it happened inside of me. She then injected the area just around my ribs with local anaesthetic, explaining that it would feel like bee stings for 30 seconds or so (it really didn't, it just felt like a bit of a sting), she injected a lot to make sure I was fully numb. She then made a small incision (when I say small, I mean tiny, like 3mm tiny), which I didn't feel at all and put the sample needle inside. This part felt so weird! It didn’t hurt at all, apart from an ache at the injection site. She moved the needle around for about 10 seconds to get it into place, warned me about the click, clicked the needle and then withdrew it. This bit was over in two minutes tops. She then checked the sample and was happy with it, so she let me see it - it was about 1.5cm long and really thin, a tiny bit of liver. She then wiped my side, put the bandage on and then I was wheeled back to recovery.
I had to lay completely flat without moving for two hours to let my blood clot up
I tried to nap but the lights were bright and there were lots of hospital noises (I suggest taking an eye mask and earplugs with you). They checked my blood pressure and heart rate every 30 minutes. The nurse also frequently asked how my pain was. I had some pain in my shoulder, so she gave me IV paracetamol through my cannula, which I think lasted all day as the pain was a five or lower for the rest of the day, like an ache but it was fine.
After two hours my bed was put up into a seated position and I got a picnic style lunch which I gobbled up (it was 1pm and I hadn't eaten yet). I then spent three more hours on the hospital bed, watching Netflix and having hourly observations. The consultant came around to see me and was happy with my blood pressure and the fact there wasn't any bleeding, so she said I could go home.
The only pain I had was from the incision site
So, five hours after the biopsy, I was picked up and taken home. I spent the evening on the sofa with limited movement and food and a blanket. I was told to avoid lifting anything and spent the next 24 hours in bed. The only pain I had was from the incision site, so I just avoided sleeping on my right side. There was a slight ache for the first 24 hours but honestly, it went so much better than I had expected!
My advice would be: be honest with the nurses with how you're feeling, mentally and physically, tell them if you're worried about something. Take your phone for music (and some earphones), a tablet for films, a book, an eye mask, ear plugs, a teddy/something for comfort. Spend the next two days doing limited things, the bed/sofa are your thrones. Look after your body and your side!