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British Liver Trust
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Liver biopsy worries

I'm having a liver biopsy next week and I'm freaking out. I've got ulcerative colitis and due to raised levels in blood tests they are checking for autoimmune liver disease (related to the IBD). The levels have been down in my last couple of tests which I'm hopeful is a good sign but they want to biopsy just to be sure.

I'm mainly worried about the procedure as nobody has explained the ins and outs of it (so to speak) and then how long it will take until receiving results. Its stressing me out hugely as im also waiting for results from tests for arthritis (also related to the IBD). I'm only 20 so all these things are really worrying me and having an emotional impact on my daily life.

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Hiya aww please don't worry it's painless... There is 2 different ways they can do the biopsy and I have had both ways on numerous occasions. First way is numbing area around your liver and just pushing a needle in to take a piece it takes less than a minute. And the other way is giving you a sedative and going in your artery in your neck and going through that to your liver and again taking a little piece that procedure takes about 30 minutes but like I said you will be sedated after both of these you have to lie on your back for six hours. The results can take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks x

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Thank you for your response. So it sounds like the worst part is the waiting afterwards!? Can you get up for the loo? Im terrible at holding it in. I'm so impatient with things like that. I'm really looking forward to some answers, it feels like a long time since my referral went through. X

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Unfortunately not, afraid its the bed pan or bottle. Hence, tip No.1 in my earlier reply, lol.

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It is the wait as always x and no you can't get up for the toilet you can guarantee when I have a biopsy I need the toilet ten times lol so it will be peeing in a pan but the nurses will assist you x the lying still is the worst part for me. Which hospital are you going to?

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Oh my goodness. I always need a wee!! I won't be drinking much that morning then!

I go to the queen Elizabeth hospital in kings Lynn. I just want it done now to get it over with.

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You will be fine nurses are used to people needing the toilet more when they can't get up it's sods law

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Hi,

No need to freak out about a liver biopsy. I've had two and they're not really that big a deal at all. They are much less of a pfaff than a kidney biopsy. Its basically an in and out in a day job usually. They may ask you to pop in a day or so before just to give you the once over and take a bit of blood to make sure you are ok for the procedure to go ahead. Although they could just do that on the day. They will probably go through the risks and things with you then too, as they do for everything. Although, they usually send out a leaflet about it with the appointment letter. If they haven't you can always get one on line. Your hospital website may even have them available to view/download. Most seem to do these days.

What tends to happen is you turn up in the morning and be given a bed. Some time later you'll be taken to a room with an ultrasound machine in where they'll do the biopsy. They use the ultrasound to guide where the needle goes. They use a local aneasthetic to numb the skin where they'll insert the needle. They'll do a tiny cut first that you wont feel, insert the needle and take a sample or two. They wont take too many, its usually one or two, but may be three. It would be unusual to do more, but dont worry if they do. They just want to make sure they have sufficient.

You may feel a little bit of pressure and possibly a very slight pinch as they find an appropriate place to sample. You may hear a little click as they take the sample but you'll probably not feel that much, if anything, when they do. You'll then be wheeled back to the ward where you'll be asked to lie on your back for the next 4 - 6 hours. For both of mine I was up after 4. You may feel a bit of pain in your right shoulder after the biopsy is done and this is quite normal. If that happens just let the nurses know and they'll give you some pain relief. Usually a couple of paracetamol does the trick.

It takes a couple of weeks to get the results of the lab work back to your doctor. They can do it quicker, but as you'll be a routine case probably wont. Your doctor will then send you the result or will discuss them with you at your next appointment depending on their preferred approach. If you dont hear anything in 6 weeks then its worth enquiring with your doctor about what the results were, although I suspect they will be in touch before that. Alternatively, arrange an appointment with them beforehand to discuss the results.

Just a few handy tips for you. 1. Go to the toilet before the procedure, to avoid the need to go after. 2. Take something to occupy your time, just in case they dont have them fancy tvs for you to while a way the hours. 3. If you're still on your back when they bring you some dinner, don't have peas. They are awkward to balance and get everywhere! 5. If you do have peas have mashed potato too, use mash to avoid pea balance problem :-). 6. The most painful bit of the procedure is taking the dressing off afterwards. 7. You'll need to arrange someone to take you home.

As with any medical procedure there are risks. But, in most cases they dont occur. So, don't get overly worried about them. They will all be explained to you beforehand anyway.

I hope thats helpful. Sorry about the bit of frivolity in the middle but humour can be a great healer. Good luck and enjoy your day in bed.

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Thanks for so much detail. I find that I like to know the ins and outs beforehand so things tend to be a pleasant surprise on the day. I posted on a forum before having a colonoscopy and had so many helpful comments. I'm still hopeful that my raised liver tests were anomalies at the time and the results will be clear but it's that worry in the back of your mind.

I guess no news is good news sometimes.

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Fingers crossed for you. I put my reply in the wrong place sorry. Basically kristian is right. Go loo, and take a kindle or something with you.

All the best

Gx

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Hi Kristian

The bit about food is very serious. I had 8 weeks on my back not allowed to be above a 30 degree rise due to a spinal cord injury. Drinking and eating and washing were really interesting tasks. Don't even ask about toilet requirements. Therefore making sure you go loo before the biopsy is really sensible. But don't be surprised if you need to go anyway.

Taking something like a kindle is really useful. I got addicted to one although never used it before I was in hospital. I have found it really useful when I have tried spells when I can't sleep at home.

The main thing is to try and relax. It isn't easy but if you can it makes any procedure easier.

Gx

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Hi,

You may find our publication 'Liver disease tests explained' useful to read as it details informationon liver biopsy, here is the link;

britishlivertrust.org.uk/wp...

Good luck,

Best wishes,

BLT admin

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I had my Biopsy on 8th November. It was fine, (better than going to the dentist in my book). Hardest part was laying flat afterwards. I'd hardly drunk that day, 1/2 glass of water and 1/2 cup of coffee very early in morning because I was worried about needing a pee. Low and behold I reached the 4.5hr mark and knew I had to go. My first (and hopefully last) experience of bed pan peeing for a lady...! But staff were helpful, dignity respected and in the scheme of things, was just a minor inconvenience. You'll be OK.

My results still aren't in 2 weeks later (I phoned consultants secretary), I don't have follow on appointment booked but she said he will phone me next week once they have them.

Take a kindle/tablet with you, they let us sit up (at an angle) to eat lunch, but was only a sandwich so no peas to juggle, and a straw in a drink if you wanted one. The time will go quickly because they monitor your blood pressure etc every 30 minutes and the day just seems an endless stream of observations. I had no problems following biopsy and was allowed home by 5pm with a responsible adult.

Honestly, I'm a wuss and it was all fine. You will be OK. Good luck x

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I had mine down in October and wasn’t allowed drink 4 hours before. I then went to the loo every half hour to squeeze my bladder dry!! The procedure itself was fine and so was lying still for 6 hours. I got upset after it was the whole worry, I just didn’t know what to expect, and it was far worse in my mind.

The nurse who looked after me was amazing and looked after me well. Hope it goes as well for you 😊

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I had one a while ago. You will be OK so please don't worry. It's not horrendous. The thought of is the worst bit. Little sedation and a little local anaesthetic and over in the bat of an eye. Take someone with journalists. I did and we chatted whilst they got on with it. Xx

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Thank you for all your comments. I feel much better. Were you allowed somebody there for the day to keep you company? I didn't really want to be there by myself xx

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Hi, I wouldn’t worry to much about the procedure, I’ve had several liver biopsy’s and apart from being a little sore afterwards you’ll be fine and out the same day

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I feel much better having posted on here.

Did the soreness last long?

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No only a couple of days, couple of cocodomol will be fine

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Hi

I wasn't allowed anyone in with me but the nurses were great to talk to and then there were loads of patients on the ward to chat to afterwards. Please take care. Lots of love Lynne xxxx

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