Biopsy complication: Hi! I'm new here, and... - PBC Foundation

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Biopsy complication


Hi! I'm new here, and got my diagnosis last week, stage 1 it seemed, after the biopsy.

My question to all you who have had a biopsy done. How often do complications occur? Many of you who had it?

I had a (what they said) small bile leak from the puncture. It did not continue leaking. I had a lot of pain after, and they looked again with ultrasound, and then an x-ray of some sort och lungs and tummy,and didn't find anything else. I was sent home. The ride home was difficult, and as soon as I got home I threw up. Then rested for a while on the couch in a lot of pain, that was getting worse. With my husband's help I went over to my bed instead. After a while I couldn't even lift my arms, it hurt so much. Decided I need to go to the ER, but threw up again when I tried to stand up. Called for ambulance. Then I stayed over night at hospital. They gave me lots of morphine, which didn't seem to help much. Excruciating pain. Comparable to giving birth (I have 2 kids) Later some stesolid and something else, and around 2 am I could relax and sleep.

Several weeks after I had pain, and can still feel it a bit now 7 weeks later, but now maybe it's just inflammation of the liver I feel?! I don't know. They have checked me with ultrasound a couple of weeks ago and couldn't find anything.

Anyone else had problems like these? Normal? Your experiences?

I'm a bit afraid I might have to go through it again if I later on have to have another biopsy.

19 Replies

Good Morning...I certainly hope this writing finds you feeling better today. Oh my, what a terrible experience. I had a biopsy for my PBC many years ago, so recollection is a little fuzzy. Fortunately, my experience was milder than yours. That sounds just terrible. The wrenching of the body while throwing up after biopsy!!!! I'm so happy they got you out of pain in the hospital. I had profound pain when trying to move around or lay on my side for about 3 weeks. Slowly it subsided, then one day i noticed that I wasn't noticing it anymore.

I read other folks experiences with biopsy and it sounds like a walk in the park....perhaps you and I had doctors who had one too many cups of java that morning. Good news is that it's getting better. I used an old fashioned hot water bottle to sooth the area once the doctors gave me the go ahead on that. Quite comforting. Be well....

Barremjau in reply to mrspeffer2

Thank you so much! Thank you for your answer. Your experience doesn't seem like a very nice one either. Not like what I read was the normal reaction, pain for a few hours or days..

Yes, I definitely think throwing up made the pain worse. For me it took about 4 weeks until I stopped noticing pain all the time.

I did the biopsy on a Thursday around midday. The week after this at work was hard, both painful, I got easily out of breath, and I was soooo tired!

My doctor, an older man, seemed competent, but a bit distracted. He was going to tell one of the assistants to start recording the ultrasound when taking the samples. And forgot about it both times because he was talking about everything he was doing. 😂

When searching online after informations I could only find descriptions of what could happen, and how that it could cause extreme pain, nausea etc, but nothing about how often it happens, different degrees of it or how long it would take to heal. And mostly I found info on severe (life threatening) leakage or beading.

Have a good weekend!

No need to get another biopsy, ever. My Hepa's all say that one biopsy is enough. Now that we have Fibroscan technology, most up to date docs aren't using biopsies anymore, Fibroscan is more accurate, they say.

Barremjau in reply to Texasliz

Let's hope they can do fibroscans in my city then. I have no idea. 😅

Texasliz in reply to Barremjau

Many Hepatologists in Texas have Fibroscans in their offices. It's much like having an ultrasound, and they give you the results while you are in the office. I've had several, and it is painless. Call your docs office and see if they can arrange one the next time you need testing. But please don't put yourself through another biopsy. I had one in 2012, a transjugular biopsy, through the neck. Ended up staying at the hospital for the weekend, due to pain, fever, and vomiting. NEVER again. Fortunately, the Fibroscan came along and resolved that for me. And Medicare pays for it.

Barremjau in reply to Texasliz

Oh, that sound horrible.... 😮 Just so horrible! I understand why you feel like "never again". Do you know why you had all that pain, fever and nausea? What went wrong?

I live in Sweden, in a smaller city. I will ask my doctor if they do fibroscans here, would be good to know. About 1 h 30 minutes away, by car, is a bigger city with a better hospital where we are sent for many more specialised things. And some things we would have to go to the capital Stockholm for.

Texasliz in reply to Barremjau

Nice to meet someone from Sweden! My doc says nothing "went wrong" with the biopsy. Just a freaky thing that happened but the biopsy told us what we needed to know. I believe the Fibroscan was actually invented in Europe and took several years to get to the USA. So I'll bet you can find one. And perhaps you don't need one, but if your doc wants to do a biopsy, just hold firm for a Fibroscan rather than a biopsy.

My hepatologist is one of the tops in Dallas. He introduced the fibroscan to Methodist Liver Institute. He is well versed in fibroscan. He never wanted to do a biopsy unless numbers went up. The last fibroscan showed significant increase in fibrosis. He ordered biopsy to see what was going on. Radiologist took several specimens, not just a few. Biopsy showed the bulk of fibrosis and histology stage 2. Thanks to the biopsy we now know I have early bridging which would have never been revealed by fibroscan. So sometimes biopsies offer information the fibroscan can not.

But did your treatment change after the biopsy? My Hepa says treatment doesn't change so why do a biopsy after the first one? My Hepatologists are at Baylor Liver Consultants, who have an office in Dallas and Ft Worth. I go to FW because it's closer to me in Cleburne. They do transplants, and are also considered top docs. They have four Hepa's and lots of other qualified people. I'm thankful that we both get good care, aren't you? We should have lunch sometime.

He said continue ocaliva. I’m not confident in that but will do as he says. Good to know you’re not far from me. I actually live in Tyler. We didn’t have good heps here so I was referred to Dr Mubarak. He in on contract with my hospital and comes every Friday. I will see him in November and will have lots of questions. I’m not in a good situation with drugs because I was allergic to URSO, or at least the capsules. If you’re ever this way, let me know. Lunch would be great!

Nice to hear back so quickly. I had allergic reactions to the fillers in all 6 tablets I tried years ago. But the Lannett brand capsules have been good for me since 2012. That's the only one I can take without having reactions. Perhaps the fillers in the capsules were your problem, and you could take tablets. Ask your doc when you see him. I understand that the fillers cause lots of stomach trouble, etc., but it's the fillers, not the Urso. Would be worth asking about, at any rate.

My capsules were Lannett. Only reaction I had was severe itching and huge welts. That was at diagnosis in 2017 and at that time was seeing my GI. He wouldn’t try pill form for fear I would have another reaction. So I’ll see what Mubarak thinks.

Oops! I missed the Cleburne. I need to pay closer attention. Yes, we’re very fortunate. There is a group of heps from Methodist Liver who have an office here and come once a month. I started out with Dr Mantry.


I’m also new here. But first off all i’m flemish talking. I’m from Belgium. sorry for my mistakes in writing English.

I want to answer abouth the complication with the biopsy.

I was diagnosed on 12/08 with PBC

On the 08/09 I had my biopsie. They didn’t tell anything abouth the risks with biopsy.

When I was on the table to start the fibroscan and they put off the big light to see better the computerscreen they asked me to sit upright to dign a paper that I could not read anymore becourse of the lack of light. The nurse quickly said is was just to sign that I aprove that they can make te biopsy.

I was diagnosed stage two

After the biopsy they saw I also have AIH autoimune hepatitis.

During biopsie I felt a very strong pain in my right shoulder. This was very sharp and I got an infuus with painkiller.

After two days the pain went slowly away. Also the pain on the right side of my body where they went in to make the biopsy.

But on the same time I started to have a pain in front of my tommy at the area af the liver that day by day get worse. 10 days after my biopsy on the 18/09 I went to the ER.

They barely looked or examened me. They took blood and I had to wait for the result.

An hour or two later a dokter came to tell me that the results of the blood where good and that I could go home. She never touched me or examened me. She also said that my urine smple said now inflamation.

I answered that there was not a sample of urine.

Then she answered “ oh then it was an old one I saw in your file in the computer”.

Then I said “ doctor never in my life I gave here an urine sample”

Then she turned away and was very quickly gone.

So I doubt now if she looked in the good file to see my results for my blood.

I still have a lot of pain. It is now a week ago I was at ER.

In the beginning breathing deeply was very painful. Also lifting the arms painfully. Driving in the car with the bumps in the road painfull. When coughing I have to push on my liverarea to make it possible. Even when I push when I go to the big toilet it is painfull. Is there anybody who recognize this? Will it go away?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

ninjagirlwebb in reply to Krkkrk

Can you go to your own doctor & let them examine you? Don’t let this go; make sure they take good care of you. Make a fuss if you have to.

I'm from Sweden, so I'm sorry for my faults in writing in English aswell. 😅

I too had really sharp pain in my shoulder after the biopsy, until the middle of the night when it eased up. I could barely breathe around midnight, and my tummy cramped really bad.

Breathing hurt for a week or too for me I think, slowly subsiding. The general pain for me seemed to be at about the same for 3-4 weeks, getting worse with physical effort, with pain, exhaustion, dizzyness, nausea etc.

Sounds like you did not have great doctors or nurses looking after you there.. Why would they not want too even feel your tummy?! To feel for lumps/stiffness, pain in sertain areas etc. Or do an ultrasound! If it hasn't gotten slightly better since, I'd say you ought to go back again and insist on a thorough examination, to rule out something leaking or bleeding or whatever.

I hope you feel better soon.

Sorry to hear you have had those problems. I had first biopsy last Tuesday. I was dreading it because of problems I’ve read from others. I was given Versed only with lidocaine to numb the skin. I refused pain drugs. I feel I was one of the fortunate ones and never had pain. Tenderness but that’s all. I hope you can get past this and feel better soon. 🙏🏻

I had a biopsy to help diagnose. It was a sonogram guided biopsy where they make a small incision right under the right side of your breast bone to reach the liver.

The biopsy was done at a New York City hospital under full sedation by an anesthesiologist. While talking to one of the doctors, I fell asleep as the meds kicked in. When I woke up I was already in the recovery room where they hook you up to the machines to monitor your vitals. They make you lie on your side so that the incision can clot.

They also offered me a choice of snack & beverage directly after the procedure since you have to fast the night before.

They monitor you for like 3 hours and if you are fine, then they discharge you.

The doctor that took the sample was a surgeon. All he does is do biopsies & they do hundreds of them at the hospital. There was another resident doctor in the room, a nurse, the anesthesiologist, and the sonogram technician.

A nurse called me the next day at home to make sure I was okay. I was very anxious about the biopsy, but it was fine. I rested after I got home, no pain, only tenderness & was normal by the next day.

They don’t tell you anything about the biopsy right after because they send the specimens to a pathologist, another specialist doctor to look at them under a microscope. He then writes up the report & sends it back to your doctor & your doctor will let you know the results. This is how they do it in the US or maybe just NY.

Hope that helps.

I wish you a speedy recovery back to normal. Sorry you had to go through that. You won’t need another biopsy.


I do hope you are feeling better now. I did NOT have a good experience either. They had to go in 3 times in order to get a good sample and then tried to send me home with no pain meds. I had so much pain in my shoulder and upper right-hand chest. It was awful. I had to sleep on my right side...gently for over a week on the couch. When I would try and lay on my other side I would cry out in pain. Just like with all things, we all have different experiences and reactions. I wish you nothing but the best in this journey.

PBC diagnosis Jan 2014 - age 35

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