PBC Foundation
6,291 members5,564 posts

Pain after biopsy

Hello everyone,

I had a liver biopsy about 18 months ago now to diagnose my PBC.

I have to say although the biopsy itself was virtually painless, within a few mins I had excruciating pain up into my shoulder, around the right side of my chest and I was gasping for breath. It's like nothing I can describe...and I'm no wimp, I had my child with no pain relief, I've had a breast lump removed in theatre but under local anaesthetic (I have a fear of general anaesthetic!)...and they cracked a rib to get to it!! Yes, ok I can feel you wincing...I wont go on!! 😜

Anyway, since then I've had pain around the liver area, it's never gone and some days is sharper than others. I've been to hospital with it last year, had a scan, nothing to shed light on this pain.

I've been back today and saw a different member of my consultants team as this is an extra appointment due to my pain. He is going to send me for a scan but says he feels it's nerve damage from the liver biopsy? I have never heard this before!! Can this happen?

Is there anyone out there who can relate to this or could give me advice? I have had this pain for about 18 months now, would be good to get some understanding of it.

Thank you,

Wishing you well,


8 Replies

Hello Caroline-12.

I have never had a liver biopsy, I was diagnosed late 2010 without the need (due to symptons, bloods and antibodies).

Apparently the shoulder pain that is felt in a lot of patients when they have a liver biopsy is due to a nerve running down that side of the body. Phrenic nerve it is. So I guess it figures that you felt this pain.

I know that it is said that no exploratory tests are 100% guaranteed safe.

We can develop a dull pain around the rib area with PBC said to be due to liver inflammation but I've not encountered anyting like this myself as yet. It seems coincidental that your on-going shoulder pain is due to PBC due to the timing. Hope you find an answer as to how it has occurred.

1 like

Thank you for your reply. My Consultant often tells me that PBC does not cause any pain, but I know from reading through this forum that there does seem to be alot of people that seem to have some degree of pain? It's very confusing!

I do think it could be the nerve, I will look into the phrenic nerve. Thank you for replying.

Best Wishes to you,



I sure hope that you can get some form of relief. I'm having my biopsy tomorrow.


I'm sorry if my comments have worried you. I know most people I've talked to have said the biopsy was fine...think I was just unlucky.

All the best for today. Take care and rest after.


1 like

Hiya. I had a biopsy before diagnosis in 2013 - whilst I found the procedure unpleasant I fortunately did not suffer the severe pain you experienced :-( Ever since, I have had odd pains in the liver area - I was waking with a pain at the top of my ribs at the biopsy site - my Gastro dismissed this and said it was probably my stomach. I have a pain on and off on my right side (liver area), Gastro dismissed this saying the liver does not feel pain! I had pain around my gall bladder and finally got an ultrasound scan which found no gall stones or inflammation with liver! Being on URSO for the PBC I have a lot of stomach cramps and discomfort, but again, my Gastro insists it's not caused by the Meds, despite what others on this site report. I can get by without pain killers for al these niggles (they come and go in intensity) so I just have to accept that, as the specialist says there is nothing major going on, it's pains we have to put up with? Oh by the way, I don't get pain in my shoulders!

1 like

Hello KatherineM_PBC.

Apparently our liver has no nerves but my theory is that if the liver has some inflammation then it is maybe contacting with this nerve (phrenic) and it is that that then gives the pain.

1 like


I'm sorry you're having such a bad go of it. Though my experience is not identical to yours, I believe that we experience pain and discomfort that medical practitioners just can't quantify and therefore can't cure or even treat.

I was tentatively diagnosed with PBC in 2014, confirmed stage 3 via needle liver biopsy in 2016. I had my gall bladder removed several years prior to the PBC diagnosis in 2010. It was a year after that my liver enzyme tests started coming back abnormal. I have no symptoms that I associate with PBC, except for elevated liver enzymes and maybe Sjogren's Syndrome. The SS has been with me since 2008.

I also had pain post-biopsy, though I didn't start feeling it until hours later. I was put under for the procedure so that could account for the delay. I recall that soon after the biopsy, I felt an ache in my shoulder but was told that was common and it would go away, which it did. What didn't was the sharp, stabbing pain that followed the line of the biopsy needle's entry, experienced as soon as I could feel something there, and growing more sharp and persistant day after day. I found that I was shortening my breaths, breathing as shallow as I could, and hunching over to try to relieve the pain. After a week of this, my consultant advised I go to hospital. Hospital found nothing clinically wrong on any scans, x-rays or blood tests.

I was released with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, though I had not had any of the symptoms prior to the biopsy, nor since, which lends me to think the IBS diagnosis was for insurance reporting purposes alone. The pain I attributed to the biopsy subsided after a few weeks, enough so that I wasn't gasping from the surprising stab as often. Months later, I would feel the occasional jab in the same vicinity, with no other symptoms besides the unexplained pain.

Neither hospital nor my consultant mentioned the possibility of the biopsy causing nerve pain. I have read that the liver itself doesn't feel pain, however, the tissues around the liver do. And with the ribcage expanding and contracting with every breath, a long hole drilled through one's side must disturb the tissues affected.

Though my tale is little help to you, at least you know you are in the company of others who have experienced unexplained post-biopsy pain. I hope you can get some relief from the pain you're feeling. Nerves do heal, though it can take a bit longer than the hole in your side from the biopsy.

Be strong. You are not alone.

bei15354, Texas, USA


Thank you so much for your reply.

Although I wouldn't wish any others to experience pain, it is reassuring to know I'm not alone in this and I now feel less worried.

This forum is invaluable and it's so important to feel amongst friends who understand.

Thank you



You may also like...