Getting Ready for a Liver Biopsy in the GI Clinic
What is a Liver Biopsy?
The liver is a large organ that sits in the right side of the abdomen, under the ribs. During a liver biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the liver and later checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The biopsy takes only a few minutes, but you remain in the hospital for 4 hours after the procedure.
Important – Read 1 week in advance.
Procedure may be cancelled if instructions are not followed
1. 7 days before, you should stop taking the blood thinner Effient® (prasugrel).
2. 5 days before, you should stop taking:
- Blood thinners, such as Coumadin® (warfarin) or Plavix® (clopidogrel).
3. 2 days before, you should stop taking the blood thinner Pradaxa® (dabigatran).
Blood thinning pills should never be stopped without discussing this with the doctor who prescribes it for you. The doctor will give you instructions on how to safely do this. Contact us if you have questions.
4. Diabetic medicines (oral and insulin) will need to be adjustedfor
the time you are not eating as normal. Please discuss this with your
5. You must have an adult take you home and stay with you for 16
hours after you are discharged. You may take a cab or bus home only
if you have a responsible adult with you other than the driver.
6. Plan ahead. You will be given sedatives which can greatly affect your
judgment. On the day of your procedure:
- Plan to rest after you leave here.
- Do not return to work.
- Do not use hazardous machinery.
- Do not make any important personal or business decisions.
- Do not drive for the rest of the day
7. Our staff will review your health history, prior surgeries, allergies, and
medicines taken. Please bring this information with you.
8. You may wish to bring a book or other quiet activity to do during your
Day of the Liver Biopsy
- No solid food after midnight.
- You may drink clear liquids before your procedure (i.e., coffee, tea, water, apple juice, soda, and Gatorade®).
- Take your normal medicines with a small sip of clear liquid up to 1 hour before you arrive. Do not take the medicines and supplements mentioned under “Getting Ready”.
- Follow the arrival and registration instructions in your cover letter. If you are delayed, call us at (608) 890-5000 to let us know you are going to be late. If you are over 30 minutes late, we may have to cancel and reschedule. We do our best to stay on time.
- Plan to be with us about 6 hours. Your driver will need to be available in our waiting room or by phone.
The Liver Biopsy
If you haven’t already done blood work for the liver biopsy, it will be drawn shortly after you arrive. A nurse will review your health history and place a small needle in the vein of your arm (an IV). The IV is used to give medicines which make you feel drowsy and relaxed. In the procedure room, a site for your biopsy will be chosen, often guided by ultrasound. The skin is numbed and the tissue sample is withdrawn using a special needle. This takes about 30 minutes.
You will then go to our Recovery Room for 4 hours. Your driver may sit with you there. Occasionally, patients need to stay in the hospital overnight after their liver biopsy.
In Recovery after the Liver Biopsy
- A pressure dressing will be applied over the biopsy site. You must lie on your right side for 2 hours, then you may recline in bed. You may get out of bed only to use the bathroom.
- After the numbing medicine wears off, you may feel some discomfort. Please ask for pain pills, if needed.
- You will not be allowed to eat or drink anything for 2 hours after the biopsy. You may then resume your normal diet.
- Your doctor will see you before discharge and answer any questions. We will ask you to schedule a clinic visit to discuss with the doctor the results of your liver biopsy.
Digestive Health Center, 8am to 5pm weekdays, (608) 890-5000.
After clinic hours, please call (608) 890-5000. Give your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live outside of the Madison area, please call 1-855-342-9900.
UW Health Digestive Health Center
750 University Row
University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics
GI Procedure Clinic
600 Highland Avenue
Meriter Hospital Digestive Health Center
202 S. Park Street
The Spanish version of this HFFY is #6507.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 04/24/2013
Copyright © 04/10/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4517
Print Health Fact For You