Under what circumstances would a patient develop complications after liver biopsy? Though pain after liver biopsy can be managed, but medical assistance is certainly required for dealing with complications that may develop post liver biopsy. Scroll down to find out how a liver biopsy is performed along with the complications that may result from this diagnostic procedure.
The importance of diagnostic procedures cannot be stressed enough. It is rather difficult to formulate the diagnosis solely on the basis of a physical examination, for people suspected of suffering from serious medical conditions. Viewing the internal organs and studying the changes in the structure of the organ can certainly provide useful information that can help the doctors diagnose the conditions. Ultrasound, MRI, CT scan and various other imaging techniques can help the doctors view the internal organs, but at times, these imaging techniques alone may not suffice. Under these circumstances, doctors may conduct a biopsy. A biopsy is a diagnostic test wherein a sample that contains the tissues of the fluids of the affected organ is collected and examined. Examination of the sample can certainly provide valuable information that may help the doctors ascertain the stage of the disease, prognosis and also help them ascertain the right treatment approach. In this article, we will find out more on liver biopsy procedure along with some information on why one may experience pain or complications after liver biopsy.
How is Liver Biopsy Performed?
Liver biopsy is usually conducted when liver ultrasound or other imaging tests reveal the presence of abnormal growths or any other liver abnormality. A liver biopsy may also be conducted if the patient is suspected to be suffering from liver diseases such as liver cancer, hepatomegaly, hepatitis, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, hemochromatosis or Wilson’s disease. As mentioned earlier, liver biopsy involves the collection of a sample of liver tissues. There are various methods that may be used for collecting the sample. Percutaneous liver biopsy refers to the method wherein the sample is obtained by inserting a special biopsy needle directly through the skin into the liver. One may experience a mild pain after liver biopsy.
Other liver biopsy procedures include laparoscopic liver biopsy and transvenous liver biopsy. In case of a transvenous biopsy, a small incision is made into the neck and a hollow tube is inserted into the jugular vein. The tube is then pushed down further into the hepatic veins and a liquid contrast material is injected into the tube. The contrast material can be seen on the X-ray. This helps the doctors gain access to the liver. The biopsy needle is placed into the tube, so as to collect the liver sample. The incision is sutured once the task of collecting the sample is over. In case of a laparoscopic liver biopsy, a tiny incision is made at the abdomen and a small device that has a mini-camera attached to it, is inserted through it. The visuals on the video monitor guide the doctors so as to locate the liver. Once they are able to guide the needle to the liver, all they need to do is, insert the needle for a fraction of a second.
Complications That May Arise After Liver Biopsy
Now that you have a basic idea on how and why a liver biopsy is conducted, let’s find out more about the complications that may develop post biopsy. Though liver biopsy is considered to be a safe procedure, at times, people may experience pain or develop certain complications after this procedure. Once the effect of the anesthetic wears off, one may experience mild soreness at the incision site. Pain is usually mild and generally doesn’t last for a long time. However, some people may experience pain at the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Sometimes, pain may even radiate to the shoulder. Some of the complications that may develop after liver biopsy may be linked with the administration of anesthesia. As far as liver biopsy pain management is concerned, use of analgesics can certainly help the patient deal with pain. One, however, must take rest so as to speed up the healing process.
The incidence of serious complications after liver biopsy is not high, but certain risks are still involved. Complications could arise if biopsy is not conducted properly. Since liver biopsy involves the insertion of a needle into the liver, there is a risk of injury to the liver or the surrounding organs. Bleeding may occur if the gallbladder, kidney, or the lung get punctured during the procedure. Other complications that may arise include pneumothorax, hemorrhage or leakage of bile. Pneumothorax is a condition wherein the lungs may collapse due to the pressure exerted by the abnormal presence of air in the pleural cavity. Air may get collected if the doctors accidentally injure the lungs with the biopsy needle. If the liver gets injured in the process, bile may also leak into the abdominal cavity. Hemorrhage, on the other hand, refers to the accumulation of blood, which again may result from an injury to the internal organs. In order to rule out such complications, doctors pay special attention to the symptoms that the patient may exhibit and also monitor the blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate and breathing after the biopsy. Doctors may keep the patient under observation for more time, if they feel the need.
It is not uncommon for patients to experience a mild discomfort or pain after liver biopsy, but it’s usually not a cause of serious concern. However, medical assistance would be required, if the pain is very severe or other serious complications have arisen post liver biopsy.