Hepatitis And The Liver Biopsy

As the Hepatitis C virus progress, depending on how many years a person has been infected and how fast the infection proceeds, the damage to ones liver can be quite extensive. At some point the health care provider may decide it important to know exactly how widespread the liver damage is.

The first thing that will be done is blood work. If this returns with high levels of iron or copper in the blood or if the levels of liver enzymes are too high this is a bad sign and means the liver is not able to function properly. The next step will be an x-ray. That will show if the liver is enlarged. If that is what the health care provider sees when looking at the x-ray then the next step must be a liver biopsy.

Surgery Preparation

Preparation for this minor surgery is very important. You must make sure your surgeon is aware of any medications that you take. The one that will give the doctor the most concern is if you are taking blood thinners. That will have an affect on the surgery as clotting after surgery is of the utmost importance.

A week before the scheduled surgery you will be instructed to refrain from taking aspirin, anticoagulants and ibuprofen. These all affect the blood ‘s ability to clot. The day of the surgery, you must fast for eight hours before arriving at the hospital. Check to see if you can take your daily medications. This is common in all types of surgery.

Surgical Procedure

During the surgery the physician will use a local anesthetic to freeze the area. Then a small incision is made, the biopsy needle slipped in carefully and a piece of liver tissue removed for studying. Some doctors use an ultrasound machine to watch as they are working to ensure they do not accidentally scratch the lung or gallbladder. The incision is then stitched up and bandaged. The whole procedure will take less than half an hour.

Sometimes the physician feels that the liver is having a great deal of difficulty functioning correctly because of the progression of Hepatitis C virus and may feel the need for more than one tissue sample, preferably from different places on the liver.

If that is the case the liver biopsy will be done instead as a laparoscopic surgery. This means a tube in inserted into a small incision just under the navel, because of the position of the incision once healed it is often no longer seen. The laparoscope has a miniature camera that sends pictures back through a monitor to help the surgeon see where the tissue samples should be taken from.

Recovery from this minor surgery is quite fast, only a matter of a few days. The patient still refrains from taking ibuprofen or aspirin as they will diminish blood-clotting ability and that will slow down healing. Once the samples are taken and studied the health care provider can, based on findings, better plan the patients Hepatitis C treatment.