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Nov 03

My Liver Biopsy Procedure

As outlined in my last post I undertook a liver biopsy recently to ascertain the extent of the damage to my liver as a result of my ongoing hepatitis C infection. The procedure itself went very well. I arrived at 8.30 in the morning and was briefed by a nurse on what to expect. I changed into the daft clothes they provide patients with and lay down on my bed until I was whisked down to the room where the liver biopsy was to take place. Whilst of course I was a little nervous I have an innate trust of the NHS and doctors in general so I felt like I was i safe hands.

The specialist performing the procedure outlined to me one last time what he was doing and was going to do and then he anaesthetised the region just under my rib cage on the right side of my body (here is the NHS liver biopsy page and another from Great Ormond Street with more detail). This shot was given a few moments to settle in and then I was informed I would feel a ‘scratch’ as the long needle was inserted to take the biopsy.

I’m not sure what I actually felt, but it wasn’t a scratch. The needle was slid inside my body and this felt ok. However the moment when the needle closes and cuts the liver across side-ways did cause a tiny bit of discomfort, no pain but just a little uneasy. It was all over pretty quickly though and I wouldn’t hesitate in doing it again should the need arise. So, nothing to worry about if you are considering having a liver biopsy as far as pain is concerned!

The worst part of the liver biopsy was in fact the 6 hours waiting flat on your back afterwards. This is to prevent or lower the risk of internal bleeding and as such is strictly enforced by the nurses. At one point I really was bursting for the little boys room but they wouldn’t let me go! I was instead given a large container to do my business in and was told to do so laying down. This I found really difficult, so without telling the nurses with the curtains closed I stood up and ‘went’ in the container.

The nurses checked my stats every 15 minutes including blood pressure and heart rate. They seemed a little alarmed that my heart rate was so low at 54, which they weren’t used to, this is apparently due to my regular fitness training and my blood pressure was just fine (apart from just before the procedure when there was as expected a significant spike!).

The only other confusion was after the 6 hours was up. I got changed and was ready to depart when they asked me who was picking me up to which I replied that I was driving home. This they were not happy with. They said that I shouldn’t be driving for 48 hours and shouldn’t be alone overnight and that I shouldn’t be working the next day. My specialist who had referred me had neglected to mention this part of the procedure!

So, regretfully despite wanting to leave I had to stay the night in hospital under observation just to be safe. Early in the morning the next day, after having regular checks throughout the night I left, scooted off to my house to put my work clothes on and headed out for the day.

The results of my liver biopsy for hepatitis C are due to be back three weeks after the procedure. The results of which will be in the next post. If you have any other insights into liver biopsies feel free to comment below.

Results in the next post…
Take care guys.

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