A liver biopsy is a safe procedure when performed by an experienced doctor. Possible risks include:
- Pain. Pain at the biopsy site is the most common complication after a liver biopsy. Pain after a liver biopsy is usually a mild discomfort. If pain makes you uncomfortable, you may be given a narcotic pain medication, such as acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol with Codeine).
- Bleeding. Bleeding can occur after a liver biopsy. Excessive bleeding may require you to be hospitalized for a blood transfusion or surgery to stop the bleeding.
- Infection. Rarely, bacteria may enter the abdominal cavity or bloodstream.
- Accidental injury to a nearby organ. In rare instances, the needle may stick another internal organ, such as the gallbladder or a lung, during a liver biopsy.
In a transjugular procedure, a thin tube is inserted through a large vein in your neck and passed down into the vein that runs through your liver. If you have a transjugular liver biopsy, other infrequent risks include:
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- Collection of blood (hematoma) in the neck. Blood may pool around the site where the catheter was inserted, potentially causing pain and swelling.
- Temporary problems with the facial nerves. Rarely, the transjugular procedure can injure nerves and affect the face and eyes, causing short-term problems, such as a drooping eyelid.
- Temporary voice problems. You may be hoarse, have a weak voice or lose your voice for a short time.
- Puncture of the lung. If the needle accidentally sticks your lung, the result may be a collapsed lung (pneumothorax).
- Liver biopsy. Alexandria, Va.: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. http://www.aasld.org/practiceguidelines/Pages/guidelinelisting.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2014.
- Bravo A, et al. Percutaneous, fine needle aspiration, and laparoscopic liver biopsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 2, 2014
- Liver biopsy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/liverbiopsy/index.aspx. Accessed Oct. 2, 2014.