PBC Foundation
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I'm having a liver biopsy next week. Please tell me what to expect!

Please share your experience with having a biopsy. I'm recently diagnosed (per bloodwork) and the doctor has ordered a biopsy to stage my PBC. Although I've been through a lot medically, this has me on edge. I'm not sure if it's fear of the procedure or a combination of being staged and recently diagnosed. I appreciate your input.

Comment added: 5/29/13, 1 day post biopsy

Hi All,

I got through the biopsy just fine and realize that much of my apprehension is the fear of being staged and not knowing what my future holds. I suppose it is something I will need to learn to live with. For those who read this and have future biopsies planned, my experience wasn't bad. I was given sedatives and didn't feel anything, but some slight residual shoulder, back and flank discomfort last night and today. I did get a bit nauseated from the meds, but slept off the feeling, and know that by tomorrow, I should be at my normal level again. Thanks everyone who commented below and eased my fears!

7 Replies

Hi Jenner, I had a liver biopsy in March last year (2012). I was very afraid of the procedure being done but the person who did it for me was very reassuring. There are much worse things in life than a liver biopsy! I would definitely have it done again if needed because it got an actual diagnosis for me of AIH/PBC overlap.

You have to be laid flat for the procedure, also awake. They can't give a general anesthetic because at some point, you have to take a deep breath, while they take the liver sample. If you are wanting to know if it is painful; then I will be honest. It is more uncomfortable than painful. You have a local anesthetic, and you don't feel the needle go in, but you do feel them take the sample, it can be equated to a very stern punch in the gut..kinda winded feeling. Afterwards you have to lie flat for four hours (in my case) to prevent bleeding. There is some discomfort afterwards for about 24 - 48 hours, but nothing too bad.

Believe me it's far better to know whats going on, so whats a little discomfort compared to knowledge.

You will be fine, honestly xx

conniefused xxx

1 like

Thanks, Connie (I think!) : ) I was kinda hoping to be knocked out into 'la-la land' and wake up when it's completely over!


Hi JennerLayne. My experience of liver biopsy: I didn't feel the procedure at any stage. It was over quickly (maybe ten minutes or so) and afterwards when my right side started to ache, I was given pain killers so there was mimimum discomfort - . getting an accurate diagnosis (I am AMA negative) was well worth it. I was recommended to carry on life as normal afterwards but I would definately recommend that you try to take things easy for a few days afterwards if you're in any discomfort - what's the harm in that! Best wishes


Hi, I had one about 18 months ago, I didn't feel a thing, just heard a click and it was done, The boring bit came later lying there, I was more annoyed because they wouldn't give me anything to eat afterwards for hours and I was starving hungry, next time I am going to take sandwiches with me :o)


I've never had a biopsy nor do I consider having one either.

I was diagnosed with PBC due to 2 symptons at the time (fatigue and itch, fatigue no longer there, the itch, well yes!) and also abnormal LFTs plus the AMA test finally.

If a biopsy had of been mentioned after diagnose for a staging purpose I'd have declined. I have no desire to know what stage I am at really and can't really see the whole point of it to be truthful.

My fear wouldn't be the procedure itself but the fact of what I've read about lying on your side for around 6hrs following. Given I now have the itch and though confined to night-time know that even during the day if I was to lie down I'd start to feel the prickles of the itch and start to fidget. I tend to keep on trucking during the day now due to having PBC. Find it bad enough just trying to relax each night from 9p.m. for a couple hours with the prickles starting to erupt slowly (I normally start itching around 11p.m).


Hi Jennifer, When I was told I needed a biopsy I was so afraid, I post-poned the appt. twice. I can truthfully say, from my experience, on a scale of 0-10 (with 10 being the most painful) I was a zero. I remember nothing, never felt or heard anything. When I awoke, I was laying on my side for 2 hours, then they gave me a large lunch & sent me home. I never took pain meds or had any bruising. I was amazed. It was nothing, but a positive experience. i would do it again if needed, without any hesitation. I wish going to the dentist was as easy. LOL


I also had to take the "deep breath". They took 2 samples. I just felt pressure. I was really sore for about a week. It was NOT pain. I did not need pain medicine.

I found out 2 days later I was stage 2.

Heidi, age 43


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