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Liver Biopsy

(757) 668-7000

A Liver Biopsy is a procedure in which the doctor removes a tiny piece of the liver to be examined in the lab to diagnose various types of liver problems. The procedure takes about 1 hour. An ultrasound study may be done before or during the biopsy. This can help the doctor know where to get the tissue sample from. The results take up to 2 weeks to come back. For children, this procedure can be done under general anesthesia. Some children go home the same day and some stay in the hospital.

What to expect afterwards:

  • Your child will be brought to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) from the operating room. Parents will be brought to the PACU very soon after the child wakes up.
  • There will be a bulky dressing over the right upper abdomen.
  • There may be a small amount of bloody drainage.
  • Your child may feel a bit sore in the area of the biopsy. Some children complain of shoulder pain on the same side as the biopsy.
  • Your child's temperature may be increased.
  • If your child is going home the same day, he/she will be observed for about 6 hours. If your child is staying in the hospital, he/she will be in the PACU for close observation for about 1-1/2 hours before going to his/her room. This is because the liver has a lot of blood vessels and could bleed after the biopsy. This is not likely, but we do watch for it.
  • Blood work will be drawn 2 and 4 hours after the procedure.
  • Your child must have quiet activities for the first day. You may want to bring quiet activities for your child's stay in the PACU.
  • A lunch tray will be provided for your child if he/she remains in the PACU for 6 hours.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • There is bleeding at the site or continuous oozing.
  • There is increasing unexplained pain in the area.
  • There is a lot of swelling around the site.
  • The wound is hot to the touch or has a lump you can feel.
  • Your child's temperature is greater than 101.5F rectally or by mouth. Slight fevers after surgery are normal. You should take your child's temperature at least once before bedtime tonight.
  • Your child has vomiting that lasts more than 6 hours or vomiting is severe. Your child's nurse will discuss this with you before your child goes home.
  • There are signs of dehydration. Your child can become dehydrated when he/she has prolonged or severe vomiting and is unable to drink enough fluid to keep up with the loss.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken look around eyes
  • No tears when crying
  • Decreased amount of urine, which means fewer wet diapers than usual in an infant/toddler.

Special Instructions:

Bring loose fitting clothes for your child to wear home.

Keep the wound clean and dry for at least 48 hours. No tub baths for 2 days. The bandage can come off after 24 hours.

Your child should have indoor activities and no rough play for 2-3 days.


Please call if you have any questions. Use the phone number your child's nurse gives you.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2008

(757) 668-7000