A1. This is where a needle is used to take a small piece of your liver. The sample will be looked at under a microscope and will help your doctors to diagnose and treat your condition.
A2. Most people have a biopsy taken by a needle passed directly through the skin into the liver. Some people, however, have abnormal blood clotting or have fluid around their liver. For these people it is safer to pass the needle from a vein in the neck (the jugular vein) to the inside of the liver. This way a hole is not made on the outside of the liver and the rare risk of serious bleeding is made even less likely.
Q3. What does it involve?
A3. You will be admitted to a ward for an overnight stay. On the day of the biopsy you will be allowed to drink but not eat beforehand. If you are diabetic and take insulin, you may need a drip to keep your blood sugars controlled.
You will be taken to the x-ray department where a radiologist, or "x-ray doctor", will perform the biopsy. The skin on the right side of your neck will be cleaned, covered in clean drapes and then numbed with local anaesthetic. Through a small needle a wire is passed from the jugular vein down to the liver. Over the wire a long flexible needle is positioned inside a liver vein and the biopsy is taken. The x-ray equipment is used to guide the needle. The procedure takes up to 60 minutes.
A4. You will feel some pushing in the neck and an ache in the upper stomach when the biopsy needle is put in. You may also get some pain in the right shoulder. This soon goes away.
A5. When you get back to the ward the nurses will check your pulse and blood pressure regularly. You will be asked to stay in bed for 6 hours. The results of the biopsy will take at least a week to get back to your hospital doctor.
A6. If you need an ambulance, you must ask your GP’s surgery to arrange one but you will need to give them three working days notice. Please inform the department if you are arriving by ambulance.
A7. Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination, or by letter addressed to:
The Departmental Manager
Freeman Hospital, High Heaton
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: (0191) 282 1099
All Newcastle Hospitals Switchboard Tel: (0191) 233 6161
If you need to turn to someone for on-the-spot help, advice and support, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on:
Due to the transformations of the Newcastle Hospitals, please see ' Patient and Visitor Guides
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Alternatively, please see local map details on how to get to the Freeman Hospitaltarget="ioMain">, which is to the east of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne with public transport services close by. Buses are available to and from the city centre direct to the main hospital entrance. A clearly sign-posted car park is provided for patients and visitors for which a charge applies.
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Information produced by: Dr J Rose, Clinical Directorate of Radiology