Liver biopsy to diagnose cirrhosis ....help !

Liver biopsy to diagnose cirrhosis ....help !

Hiya All :) Has anyone had a liver biopsy?

Any details and whether the results confirmed cirrhosis would be much appreciated :)

I was diagnosed with cirrhosis in November 2012 from a Fibroscan (75 Kpa) and abnormal LFT's. I was still drinking when I was admitted the next day with acute alcoholic hepatitis.

I have been abstinent from alcohol since then and a nurse mentioned at my last appointment that a liver biopsy is the only way to confirm if I have cirrhosis or whether, as my last Fibroscan (8.8 Kpa) indicated, that some degree of healing had occurred.

A doctor I saw at the same clinic two years ago said because my bloods were consistently normal, he wouldn't risk a biopsy !

Any input welcome :)

7 Replies

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  • Hi! I'm over in the US, so procedures/terminology here may be different. I had a biopsy after having an ultrasound showing fatty liver and LFTs that continued to rise into the 400s. I'm not familiar with fibroscans, those were never mentioned to me. I was told that the only way to diagnose the level of damage was through the biopsy. For me the results showed that I have stage 2 fibrosis, so no cirrhosis yet (yay!). Also, my understanding is that once it got to cirrhosis it was no longer reversible, that it was only reversible in the fibrosis stages of damage, but I may be wrong. Who knows, maybe that was my doc's way of scarring me into being healthier. :)

  • Hi Meagan and thanks so much for your reply! I'm really pleased you only have fibrosis and it's what I'm hoping for too ! I was interested as well in the actual procedure ...were you sedated or fully asleep etc ? Also I have taken Milk thistle regularly and would be interested if you take any supplements? Keep making the right choices ...I try every day ;) x

  • So for mine I was completely awake- they offered to show me the needle and I declined- I looked away the whole time. I typically have a very high pain tolerance, didn't feel any pain during the procedure, although they did give me a lot of drugs via IV (I asked why they moved me so i was almost upside-down and apparently my bed hadn't moved at all). That day I went home and slept, and took it easy all weekend. I felt ok to do more than they said (lifting heavy objects, being v. active, etc) but didn't risk it for 3 days. The doctors did offer me prescription pain meds after the procedure but I declined (bc of principle, not lack of pain)

    I haven't been taking any supplements, docs prescribed me vitamin E, but I don't like taking medications, so I haven't been as good about taking it as I should be. Is milk thistle supposed to help the liver?

  • I have had two liver biopsies. Firstly when I was initially ill (I have AIH- auto-immune hepatitis) and secondly to examine if my fibrosis has developed further or not. On neither occasion was I sedated. A needle is inserted into the liver after the area has initially been numbed by anaesthetic. They usually take a couple of samples. First one I had, the samples were taken from the right side (I presume below the ribs) and the second one went in through the front. The first was very quick. The second they took a few samples and the person taking them was being supervised, so took a little longer.

    You don't feel the needle going in (the area is numbed), you hear a click, when they take the sample and then it is over. When you are taken back to the ward, they should monitor you immediately for bp etc. Despite what you may read, it is not scary and is over very quick as long as you have an experienced practitioner.

    That's my experience. If you look through the search button, you should find other peoples' experiences. The biopsy is seen as the decisive test to determine level of scarring in the liver, but bear in mind that since the samples are small and the liver is huge, (in comparison) they will only get an average picture. The level of scarring may not be consistent throughout the liver, but they simply cannot take that many samples as it is invasive and does carry some risk as a procedure. So it should tell you if you have cirrhosis. The fibroscan tells you how flexible the liver still is. More scarring, less flexibility. Good luck.

    Whilst the procedure itself is not painful, you may experience pain afterwards due to how the liver is linked to other parts of the body (not a biologist, so you would need to ask someone else for clarification). I did the 1st time, not the 2nd. Hope this answers your questions.

  • Thank you so much for your reply and all the detail in it ! I'm erring on the side of non-invasive monitoring I think. I have twice yearly ultrasounds and three monthly bloods and as long as they are fine then I'm more than happy to stay away from the hospital. I think their monitoring would be the same whether it was fibrosis or cirrhosis really. Family and my teenage son aren't fussed on me having it done unless dire emergency so I will give it a bit more thought :)

  • Biopsies are only done if they feel it is absolutely necessary. The rest of the time I get monitored by bloods and ultrasound. Be aware that continued damage to the liver can cause other problems, but it is best to ask your doctors when you have a clear picture of the level of damage to the liver. I'm glad that you found the detailed response of some use and wish you all the very best with whatever decision you come to. :)

  • Hi sazzle26, I was diagnosed in 2008 with Cirrosis via blood tests and ultrasound scans . Not once have I ever been asked to have s liver biopsy , I was discharged from hospital 2 yrs now but went to my doctor last Friday and asked for a fibroscan and further scans to rule out any underlying causes , unfortunately fibroscans are not given out everyone , only if they think further investigations are Needed . I stopped the cause of my cirrohsis and that was alcohol and I have changed my diet to as less sugar and salt and no processed foods . To Fresh healthy foods and I have also cut out some gluten too from my diet and gave up smoking , I had to have oral surgery Saturday to remove 2 wisdom teeth . Under local anaesthetic . The sockets were already clotting up within 5 mins of exactions , was very happy that the liver was working well otherwise I would have had heavy bleeding .. Hope you find what your looking for .. Best wishes .. Linda