PBC Foundation
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My Liver Biopsy Experience, Jan.8, 2013

I had my liver biopsy today, & wanted to share how it was. I had written a question a while ago, asking how painful is a biopsy on a scale of 1-10. I am very pleased to announce, that I rate the one I had today as a, "0." Truly, there was no pain whatsoever. I was given an IV with both pain meds & light sedation, while laying on the CAT Scan table. I was run through the scan so the Dr. could locate my liver & know exactly where to go in. I asked him if I would feel the slit he cuts to put the biopsy needle in, & if I would feel a pinch or jab, etc. He said, absolutely not, because you will be out! Next thing I know it was over, I was wheeled back to recovery room, with TV & I chose my lunch off the menu. My husband & sister came to talk with me, while I ate,, & all this time I was resting on my right side, & signed all discharge papers & left. So simple, well organized, friendly/professional people. All this anxiety & wasted energy over this? No pains afterward at all. So thankful all went very well. I hope everyone will have a pleasant experience in the future, such as I did, so please DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT!

18 Replies

That's great news, I'm glad you had a good experience.


So happy it all went well for you.


Great news Wendy, so happy for you. Hope the results are good as well


Glad everything went well for you! Thanks for letting everyone know.


Wendy, that is fab news. I am having my biopsy next Wed and not looking forward to it!!! I am in the UK and I don't think they give you IV. I think they just inject the area so that you are numbish!!!! Wish I was getting the IV as I would be ok with that!!! Thanks for the info and I am glad it went well for you. Hugs Sx


Hi SIlvers, If your doctor does not want to give you a sedative, for whatever reason, then I would take a valium, lorazapam, etc. One hour before I got there, & another 30 minutes before the procedure. I have done this with minor surgeries in the past & it REALLY helped.


Don't worry too much Silvers its really not that bad honestly.

I live in the UK also, IV was not offered to me but do not know if that is the norm for every health authority in the UK. You could always give the biopsy department a ring for advise and ask in advance if they offer any sort of sedation.

Good luck for next Wed. You'll be fine.


Hi Silvers, I have has 3 biopsys here in the UK, you will only feel a very slight sting when the needle goes in to numb you I promise and as for the biopst itself its over before you even knoe it and you wont feel a thing. My only pain came afterwards when the liver bled a bit, gives you pains in you right shoulder but not devistating. The nurse will give you mint tablets which help and painkillers (liquid paracetamol in a drip) which is grand.

Just remember not to stress and keep calm, I hope it goes well for you :)


I'd not have a problem with actually having a biopsy if I chose to have one if it was mentioned (I personally don't think now it is required in my case as been diagnosed by AMA and LFTs and the itch since Dec 2010).

My problem as I'm curious to know also, how does one manage if one itches in having to lie relatively still for up to 6hrs following a biopsy? I might only itch at night-time normally but I find if I have a spare half hr in the daytime and slouch about with a book for eg I do start to itch slightly and start fidgeting. I visited my mother-in-law in hospital early evening 25th Dec, long before I had the itch due to start but I found it most uncomfortable as it was so hot on the ward and plastic chairs are notso good.


Hi Peridot, I was already diagnosed Dec.20, AMA/ALP, however Dr. wanted biopsy to determine PBC stage. He said that would determine what treatments would be needed, in addition to Urso (if needed) I do not have itching & I only had to lay on my right side maybe, 3 hours, if that. I did not have to lie still. The Dr. guaranteed I would not bleed, due to the medication they injected into the biopsy sites (there were 4 taken) in different areas of the liver. This medication dissolves in about 48 hours. The Dr. jokingly compared this med to a sort of "caulking," They had asked previously, if I had any symptons, such as itching, if so, they were going to give me meds for that in the IV. So they were well prepared, experienced & confident in doing this & making patients comfortable.


Hi Wendy

Thanks for the info re; 'caulking',possibly VitK or some other substance to aid clotting. I will be having a biopsy before too long to confirm AIH and my main concern was bleeding as I have a low platelet count. I feel less worried thinking about it now!


If I can help even one person relax their anxieties about their biopsy, I feel happy. A blood test was given to me, previous to the procedure, to test how well my blood coagulates. If needed, they said they would administer meds to aid the clotting, before the procedure would begin. So, they are really "up" on all aspects, in regards to your needs. Relax, I think you will be fine. :)


Hi Wendy...that is really reassuring. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to post this. I am really glad it went well for you x


Thanx SC.....Now I just have to worry about results, Jan.14, then medication tolerance., etc...etc....LOL


Hi there, so glad your experience of biopsy was good. Mine was the complete opposite on a scale of 1 - 10 it was a 10. The pain was horrendous and I will never ever have one again unless someone gives me a very good reason. I had to lie still in bed for 12 hours afterwards and had to stay overnight for monitoring. I have since learnt that the biopsy can only tell you about the part of the liver it has been taken from and is not indicative of the whole liver which could be at various different stages. I was at the Royal Derby and the Consultant is an expert ... He told me beforehand that I would experience an intense pain after about half an hour in my right shoulder ... I didn't know what to do with myself until the morphine kicked in after about 20 minutes ... never again. I will say though that I have the upmost respect for the consultant and am quite happy to see him in clinic. Its the procedure I don't like for the biopsy.

I was in two minds whether to post this, but have posted it for those who will be having one in the future. If yours didn't go the same way and you ended up in terrible pain like me and lots of others, you would think something had gone wrong when in fact it wouldn't have.

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Just had mine done last Wednesday, went badly. I was sent home 2 hours after recovery. Laid in at for about 2.5 and had the wife call doctor back. I had bloating of the torso and pain. I was told to return to the hospital, after another c-scan. Was told that I would need a emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding. I Was in ICU for all most three days. Today is the fifth day after biopsy was done and still feel weak, the surgeon who placed the drainage tube in was not the doctor who removed the tubing. I still have fluids draining.


Hi! Glad to read your post as I could not believe it was a perfect procedure. I am in the USA and just joined up and feel this will be helpful in finding my way ...l had had a Dx of Systemic Lupus since 1972 but was asymptomatic until Sgjorens syndrome became a real issue, so via my eye doctor was seen at U Penn. Pilocarpine was a lifesaver as my vision was very undependable until I started taking it and now all is pretty good in that arena.

Then during a routine physical my blood work revealed high liver function tests. (about 5 years ago) GI consultant Dx'd the PBC and he and my primary physician both wanted me to get a liver biopsy. I refused. l did not feel they could give me a good enough reason to have an invasive procedure, and while I appreciated they wanted to confirm their DX, I did not want the exposure. I had a kidney biopsy following the Lupus DX and was not a happy camper and had a vagal response following it and lost consciousness. Ug.

Anyhow, I was told no treatment that was effective and because of my age (not young) I would likely be ok. U Penn did some expensive testing and ruled out Lupus, that I had autoimmune disease. I had a physical following a significant illness at Christmas this year and the liver enzymes had climbed quite a bit and then I developed a palpable liver, pain, and an ultra sound reveals acites. I had a beer belly gut..very distended, clothes not fitting, etc. Soooo, am seeing a heptologist March 28th, and all my Docs are again referencing a liver biopsy. Glad to hear it went so well for most of the respondents, but still not ready, altho more open than I was before. We shall see.

I wonder if URSO will be offered. Seems to help a lot of you, but I must say the list of side effects were rather daunting!

Currently feeling better, distention GI issues of gas and stool frequency diminishing, and energy climbing back up. My potassium was low, and since being put on a low dose things have improved. Probably a coincidence.

Blathering on here, glad to have a place to go. Need to figure out how to purchase the book, Compendium, the foundation has produced.


(but I think the Itching may be coming soon....I find myself rubbing my skin all over on occasion, not itching but...)


I had a liver biopsy today and thought I'd share my experience. For information, the biopsy was performed in the UK by the NHS and the reason was to confirm or deny possible Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis after a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis a few months ago.

After weeks of worrying about it, I arrived at hospital at 9am for some blood to be taken so they could check I would clot ok. I waited in the day unit until around 11 when I was wheeled on a trolley to the x-ray department. I can understand being wheeled back, but I felt like a bit of a fraud going down before I'd even had anything done! Anyway, the doctor came in, explained the procedure, had a bit of a chat as they do, and used an ultrasound machine to work out where the best entry would be. Once he was happy with where he wanted to go in, he cleaned the area and anaesthetised me. This was the worst bit. It wasn't excruciating, but was certainly the 'sharp scratch' they told me I would feel. I screwed my face a little, and after 2-3 seconds it was over. They gave it a few minutes to kick in, then I saw a little scalpel in the doctor's hand as he informed me he was giving the skin a little nick to help get the needle in. I literally felt nothing, thankfully! Then, as I looked away, he put something to my side, pressed in, I heard (and felt) a click, and that was it. No pain, not even a feeling of anything 'going on' inside. They patched me up, rolled me on to my side and I went back to the ward to rest. I had a bit of pain in my shoulder (a common side effect) but it didn't last too long. I spent an hour and a half on my side while they checked the wound and my blood pressure every 15 minutes. Then I could sit up - I even managed a walk to the toilet!

I left hospital about an hour and a half ago. I have a bit of discomfort, but I wouldn't call it pain, I just need to take it easy for a couple of days.

For anyone reading this who is having the procedure - try not to worry, it really isn't bad.


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