Friday, 13 December 2013

Liver Biopsy - What is it?

Hey Guys,
Hope your all okay ?
So today I'm starting a bit of a different kind of series on my blog.
And this if for people who are suffering with liver failure or are just interested in the things around it and want to find out more.
I must include I am not a medical professional and everything wrote in these posts are from personal experience.
I'm hoping that these post's can reassure patients and put there minds at ease to know what procedures involve and to read about them from someone who has actually had it done.
I know when I was ill and I wanted to find out about procedures,there was no posts written by people who had the procedure done themselves so it's impossible for them to tell you how it feels etc accurately.
We must also take into mind that we all have different pain thresholds and such but I will explain things the best I can.
So today's topic : Liver Biopsy.
This was the one thing I was most scared to have done,and having spend so much time on the ward this was the one thing people always asked me about before they went to have it done.
I had one done last Friday so figured while it was fresh in my mind (and the wound can still be seen) i'd get this done.
Liver Biopsy is when a small needle is inserted into the liver to collect a tissue sample.
The tissue sample is then sent to the lab where it will be tested for whatever reason it needs to be.
You will usually have a liver biopsy if your have reoccurring bad liver numbers,jaundice,Enlargement of the liver & if any abnormalities are found on the liver by CT Scan or Ultrasound.
Saying that though from personal experience I have always had them after transplant too,as it gives the doctors a more precise idea of what the liver is doing and if it is 'coping' well - so try not to worry to much if you have a biopsy quite soon after transplant!

I know one of the first things I asked was
"How dangerous is it?"
And Doctor's have always told me there's a very small risk of complications,those being internal bleeds & infection. (Pretty normal with the nature of the procedure.)

& The second question.
"Does it really hurt?"
Now. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain,and I would say this is pretty uncomfortable more then painful - as long as you stay calm and relaxed (seems a ridiculous thing to say I know..)
The worst part of the entire procedure really is the local anesthetic.
This will be injected into your side and it does sting quite a bit,just like when you go to the dentist but a lot stronger.
But I promise once that injections done - the rest is a walk in the park !
After then you will just feel pressure and pushing when the doctor inserts the needle and takes the biopsy.
And don't forget if you do feel pain - Let them know!
They will give you a bit more local anesthetic to make you feel comfortable.

The Procedure Itself.
(Again Keep in Mind I am not a medical professional,this is past experience)

You Will be Nil by mouth from the evening before.
Again this is personal experience as my last one they said I was Nil by mouth from 6AM - So seems can be different times,but you will be nil by mouth.

You Will need to wear a hospital gown,as un flattering as they are and us inpatients like our Pajamas,You'll have to wear one - this is so they can have access to your side.
You will need to ask but I have always worn my own pajama bottoms though underneath the gown as they only need access to your side.

Whoever is carrying out the procedure will ask you all the usual questions then get you to lie on your back and pop your right hand under your head.
Take this time to start to relax,this is the pint I start to close my eyes and take slow breaths through my nose and out through the mouth.
This will help keep you nice and calm.

They may use a ultrasound to have a quick look at your liver and to see where they are going to take the biopsy from.
(They will then draw a little mark on the skin to show where they will be taking the biopsy from)
Sometimes I open my eyes here to have a look at my liver as it always amazes me to look at the transplant organ.

They will now clean the skin - which is pretty cold,and put a drape over you.
This will just be placed over the site of the biopsy so they are just dealing with that bit of skin.
The drap may cover part of your face - don't panic!
Continue the slow breathing here as it will help the pain for the next few steps.

The Doctor will now insert the local anesthetic into the area to numb it.
Now the areas numb you shouldn't feel any pain,just pressure.
They will give this a minute or two just to make sure its really numb for you.
They will make a small incision a this point so this way they also know if you need more anesthetic or not,so don't worry about being in pain or not been given enough local anesthetic!

Now they will take the biopsy.
They will warn you before hand,and they will tell you to begin breathing slowly and steadily - that's why I find its easier to begin this step as soon as you lie down.
As they insert the needle you will feel pressure and pushing as they insert it into the liver - this part will be uncomfortable but if you continue the steady breathing it will make it easier and the procedure quicker.

The Doctor will now ask you to hold you breath.
You will hear a click.
And you'll be told to breath out.

Biopsy Done.

They'll then wipe the wound and pop a dressing on and it's all done..

Here's a picture of the site well after a week of having it done (top left),
you can see all the other little dots around it are scars from previous ones - except the ones on my scar line they were staple scars from my transplants.
And you can see the biopsy marks are pretty much unnoticeable after a few days,I personally just scar very easily.

View image.jpeg in slide show

I hope that has put your mind's at ease,
or has answered questions for those of you who were just curious.
If you want to ask any questions comment below or email me at :

Stay Safe & Speak Soon.

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