Liver Biopsy

The best way to understand a problem in the liver is often to perform a biopsy. The procedure involves passing a needle into the liver to obtain a tissue sample for examination.

Physicians with the Rutgers Health Hepatology and Liver Disease program are experts in the liver biopsy procedure and in providing compassionate care. Our doctors are on the faculty of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, a part of Rutgers University, one of the top research institutions in America. Our physicians are active in clinical research and in teaching about all aspects of liver disease, and each brings leading-edge knowledge from the classroom to the exam room.

How Is a Liver Biopsy Done?

The most common way to obtain a liver sample is by inserting a needle into the liver for a fraction of a second. A physician will determine the best site, depth, and angle of the needle puncture by performing a physical examination or ultrasound. Anesthetic is first placed on the skin and an area under the skin.

About half the patients who receive this procedure will not feel any pain; the other half will experience brief, local pain that may spread to the right shoulder. Patients need to lie on their right side for about one hour, and be monitored for an additional three hours. After monitoring, patients can go home the same day.


Avoid taking any product containing aspirin or any aspirin-like products, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, for one week prior to the liver biopsy. Do not eat or drink after midnight the day prior to the procedure; however, take your medications on the day of the test. If you are taking insulin, take only half your normal dose on the morning of the exam. Do not take your diabetes pill on the morning of the exam. Please check blood sugar at home before coming for the test. Be sure to contact your physician for any questions about the test, especially if you are taking blood thinners.

On the day of the procedure, please arrive 45 minutes prior to appointment time. Patients are brought into the exam room where a nurse will explain the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form. A physician will speak with you and examine you briefly.

If your doctor has prescribed a liver biopsy, please schedule an appointment with the Rutgers Health Hepatology and Liver Disease program today.