A liver biopsy is a procedure in which a small needle is inserted into the liver to collect a tissue sample. The tissue is then analyzed in a laboratory to help doctors diagnose a variety of disorders and diseases in the liver. A liver biopsy is most often performed to help identify the cause of:
- Persistent abnormal liver blood tests (liver enzymes)
- Unexplained yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- A liver abnormality found on ultrasound, CT scan, or nuclear scan
- Unexplained enlargement of the liver
- A liver biopsy can also be used to estimate the degree of liver damage, to grade and stage hepatitis B and C, and to determine the best treatment for the damage or disease.