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Liver biopsy


At Mater Health Services we understand that being in hospital can be a very stressful experience. This booklet aims to alleviate some of your concerns in keeping with our Mission to offer compassionate, quality care that promotes dignity while responding to patients’ needs. It explains briefly the events that may occur during your visit and the things to expect when you are discharged from the hospital.

It is, however, only a guideline as each person may require differing treatments.

If you have any questions about your treatment please ask your doctor or nurse.

Our pastoral care team offers a caring support network to all patients. The dedicated members of this team will visit you during your stay and are available at your request to discuss any anxieties or problems that you may have.

What is a liver biopsy?

Liver BiopsyA liver biopsy is a diagnostic procedure performed under ultrasound, in the Medical Imaging Department (Radiology) by the specialist radiologist.

Looking at liver tissue itself is the best way to determine whether the liver is healthy or what is causing it to be damaged.

A piece of liver tissue is removed through the needle and sent to pathology for testing. More than one piece of liver tissue may be required. The liver tissue is then examined under a microscope to diagnose specific liver abnormalities.

Prior to your procedure

  • Your appointment will be confirmed by the Radiology department.
  • You will need to complete a blood test at a Mater pathology collection centre, 2 days prior to procedure. This is to ensure your blood clotting times are normal.
  • You must arrange for someone to be able to take you home after the procedure and stay with you for 24 hours.
  • Ensure we have their contact details.
  • You will be asked to fast for 6 hours (This means, no food, drink, cigarettes, lollies or chewing gum) on the day of your procedure.

Procedure day

Bring your Medicare Card, list of current medications, and any medications you may need after the procedure.
Please Do Not Bring any Valuables or Jewellery.
You will be admitted to Day Procedure Unit on Level 5, Mater Adults Hospital.
Please note: Your arrival time is not your procedure time.

What to expect during your liver biopsy

An initial ultrasound will be performed to determine a suitable area for the biopsy.

The skin is numbed with local anaesthetic and covered with a sterile drape. You will be asked to take a few deep breaths and then you will be asked to hold your breath.

As you hold your breath, a special biopsy needle will be inserted a short distance into the liver.

This may be repeated a couple of times to allow the doctor to obtain a satisfactory sample.

A dressing will be placed over the biopsy site.

The liver tissue is then examined under a microscope to diagnose specific liver abnormalities.
It may take several days for results to be finalised.

After your procedure

  • The nurse will monitor your vital signs and level of pain.
  • You will be monitored for a minimum of six hours after your procedure, while lying in bed.
  • You may feel pain in your right shoulder which is referred pain. This pain is caused by irritation of the diaphragm muscle and should disappear within a few hours or days.
  • If the pain is persistent your condition will be assessed and pain relief will be provided.

Post procedure information

  • Please stay in the company of a responsible adult within the Brisbane region for 24 hours.
  • Do not drive or operate any heavy machinery.
  • Do not consume alcohol for the remainder for the day.
  • Do not drive a car, motorcycle or ride a bicycle.
  • Do not sign any legal documents or make any important decisions.
  • Do not engage in sports or heavy lifting for 48 hours and avoid unnecessary strenuous activities even up to a week. 
  • Avoid any unnecessary medications which may cause bleeding such as aspirin and fish oil if not clinically required.
  • Keep dressing dry and intact for 48 hours, then remove.


If you experience any of the following after discharge - severe pain; chest pain or shortness of breath , shoulder tip pain,  abdominal distension; fever; vomiting; swelling at the site and bleeding at the site.

Please contact Mater Hospital Day Procedure Unit on 07 3163 3730, to speak with a nurse or go directly to the Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department: 07 3163 8111 or contact your General Practitioner (GP).

Mater Hospital Brisbane

Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane Qld 4101

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Staff at Mater Hospital Brisbane, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Qld 4101

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.

Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420026 

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420026
Last modified 26/7/2019.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 11/8/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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