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A liver biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of liver tissue, so it can be examined under a microscope for signs of damage or disease. Your doctor may recommend a liver biopsy if blood tests or imaging techniques suggest you might have a liver problem. A liver biopsy also is used to determine the severity of liver disease. This information helps guide treatment decisions.

The most common type of liver biopsy is called percutaneous liver biopsy. It involves inserting a thin needle through your abdomen into the liver and removing a small piece of tissue. Two other types of liver biopsy — one using a vein in the neck (transjugular) and the other using a small abdominal incision (laparoscopic) — also remove liver tissue with a needle.

Nov. 19, 2011