Personal Biopsy Stories from fellow "heppers"

I just recently had my first liver biopsy and wanted to share a little about what it was like. I had a needle biopsy,as I see most of you on here did. First of all,I want to say that the anticipation was much,much,much worse than the actual procedure! Everything went so quickly and smoothly and it was over before I knew it. The area on my right side was numbed with a local,and that did sting some,but nothing I couldn't handle. I asked for something to help calm my nerves and the nurse injected something into my IV at the same time as the doctor was giving me the local anesthetic so that probably helped me a lot. I didn't feel the actual biopsy. The doctor asked me to hold my breath 3 times,as he did 3 biopsies. Each one only lasted a few seconds. I could hear the sound of the biopsy "gun" as he did them,but I couldn't see anything. I had read on here to ask the doctor ahead of time to let me hear the sound it makes so I wouldn't be startled,and I did that. That was good advice. Afterwards I was sore on my right side for a few days. I just layed around and rested for a few days,and then I was back to normal!
Before my liver biopsy, the doctor explained that he would not give me anything for pain because this was a procedure that would not hurt if I held still. All I received was a "topical" at the point of insertion. When he jabbed that thing that looked like a crochet hook into my liver, I could feel every inch of it!! The pain was SO extreme! Since I was not expecting the pain, it caused me to flinch - at which point the doctor said sternly, "I told you not to move!" To which I replied just as sternly, "It hurt!" He actually had the nerve to tell me it hurt because I moved! (I didn't move until AFTER the pain). At any rate, the pain put me into a state of shock and I had to be monitored a little longer than usual. I went home feeling like a Mac Truck had just plowed into my gut. I couldn't move and the pain made me nauseous as well. I was sore for a few weeks, extremely so at first. But, the doctor believed that the liver doesn't feel pain so therefore I didn't need anything to alleviate the pain. I suffered a lot. I know I will have to have another biopsy. But they will have to knock me out first!!!!
I had a liver biopsy done three years ago. The doctor accidently cut through an artery and I lost 3 units of blood. My only advice is to donate blood ahead of time or line up some trusted friends just in case. I wish you well.
I've also had a liver biopsy. While I can say that it wasn't as bad as it sounds, it's definitely not a pain-free procedure. The doctor did a sonogram (I think) to locate the liver and the major arteries. Then he marked off a spot on the side, between a couple of ribs. Then, the nice nurse gave me a hefty shot of valium and something else, demerol, I believe. Then they injected some sort of numbing stuff by the spot that was marked, and let this whole mixture take effect. I was quire high when the procedure began. My doctor is really cool, so he explained everything before he did it. The actual process to retrieve the liver tissue is pretty quick - I think he made a little incision at the marked spot, then quickly stuck to big needle/retriever in. This, of course, hurt. A VERY sharp, but at the same time, crampy pain from deep inside. Of course, as luck would have it, the first piece of liver retrieved wasn't big enough, so had had to stick the needle back in a second time! I think he wanted to make sure I enjoyed the experience totally.

Then it was over. The sharp pain and crampiness continued for a couple of hours, then faded to a dull soreness. I basically snoozed through the rest of the morning, interrupted only by the nurse checking blood pressure and the doctor, who returned every hour to check for bleeding.

The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to mentally prepare yourself for the pain, become fully informed before the procedure about what it entails and what will happen, and plan on being out of it for a day or so. Pain is intensified by fear, so if you have confidence in yourself and your doctor, you can make it through without much trauma.

Good luck, and make sure to ask for extra blankets - those hispitals are so cold!
Mine wasn't too bad. It did feel as though I'd been punched for about 16 hours, and I needed a shot of demerol to sleep that first night. The next day I was fine, and the second day I was off to Colorado for two weeks of mountain climbing.

For me, seeing that needle and thinking about the whole thing was probably the worst part of it.

It was done as a 24-hour out-patient service, so I was held overnight for observation (in case of bleeding) and released the following a.m. By never technically becoming an inpatient it had important insurance ramifications.

Good luck!
It was surprisingly uneventful. I was nervous so I think the doctor may have injected something to calm me down in addition to the local anesthetic. The injection of the anesthetic (a mild burning sensation) actually hurt slightly more than the biospy itself. All I felt during the actual biopsy was "pressure" on the area. I had to stay on my back with some sort of heavy pack on the site for a couple of hours. I stayed in the hospital 23 hrs. (insurance co. insanity)--they woke me up at 6 am to send me home. My boyfriend drove me home the following morning. I was advised not to drive for a couple of days so I didn't.

As fate would have it my boyfried has chronic hepatitis too. He was tested after I was. His biopsy was as easy as mine. Same overnight hospital stay. Same restrictions on driving . Neither one of us had any complications or noticable pain. The doctor said that complications are rare and that the hospital stay was more of a precaution.

Good luck with the biopsy, Sheryl. I hope its as easy as mine was. And Judy, welcome to the biopsy club. I knew your persistance would pay off.
My liver biopsy was not bad at all. It was done on an outpatient basis, and I was not to eat since midnight the night before. They put in a couple of bags of platelets beforehand, since on a previous biopsy-try I had bled too much with that initial little incision, and the doctor had refused to do the biopsy (my platelets are really low). The worst part of the whole thing was the nurses getting the IV into my arm (this can easily turn into a traumatic event with my veins <g>). They put me under the cat scan and located a good place for biopsy, gave me some versed and a little fentynal, and injected a local anesthetic at the biopsy site. I did not feel the incision, then he stuck in the aspirating needle and aspirated liver samples out at five different levels (they take different numbers of samples per patient). The aspirating process was uncomfortable, but the word "pain" does not apply. I was able to ask all sorts of questions as to what and why during the process and everyone was very nice and helpful. Then they took me back to the outpatient recovery area, and I had to lay still on my back for an hour. They told me that the reason they wouldn't let me drive home by myself was the medicines they had given me, some sort of liability problem with the hospital should I be dopey while driving. And, that was it!

My general practitioner and the GI she gets advice from wanted to treat me based on the report about the biopsy slides generated by the hospital, and I did not get any GOOD advice until I took the biopsy slides up to Denver and the doctors at University Hospital viewed the slides themselves.
My biospy was no big deal. It sound worse that what it is, at least for me. I had my biopsy on 2/14/95. I recently slipped a disc in my back, and I was in much more pain , caused by position on the gurney that by the needle thrust. I ached more the next day. I felt like someone had kicked me in the side.

I have had one minor complication. Even as I type this, I still have a dull ache at the incision site for the biospy. Is this common? How long will it take to go away?
My first two biopsies where laparoscopical biopsies, this one was just a needle biopsy. For those of you who have never experienced this, I can tell you, this is really a minor affair. First the doctor examined the liver with ultrasound from all directions thoroughly ( you don't feel anything ), which gives a lot of information on the size of the liver, on the size of the bile ducts and the blood vessels and the structure of the liver and on other organs, and he determines where to enter with the needle to keep safely away from eventual haemangiomas (they found two), the gall bladder and other non-liver things. He marks that point and the direction to go. Then with two small injections the region is anaesthesized, and when he enters with the larger needle again it doesn't hurt at all. So, if it has to be done in your case, no need to worry !

At least seen with ultrasound, my liver looks completely o.k. in spite of the fact, that I have my hepC for 16 years now.-

Now, after several weeks, I have the histological findings, and they don't look so good. No cirrhosis yet, but I'm on my way... Liver deteriorated quite a bit in the past 9 years, hepatitis quite active now, something that could not be determined by any other means. It didn't show up in the enzyme levels, nor in the ultrasonic scans. 9 years since the last biopsy is definitely too long. If you want to know what's going on, I think PCR quantitative (1.5 Mill./ccm for me) and a biopsy is a must. Looks like interferone+phlebotomy is coming soon....
I have had two biopsiees. The first was done in an army hospital--with some novoccaine injected--and nothing else. It was horrible! The first stick did not yield a piece of tissue, so he stuck me again. They had warned me about reflected pain--but he said he had never had a patient who had experienced it--WELL I DID--it felt as though I had a massive injury to my neck--and then they wanted me to lay on my side--not possible with such intense spasams. They then sent me to x-ray to make sure they had not nicked a lung and deflated it--and said I had Sarcodosis--which eventually they ruled out--but only after about 7 years of delaying treatment.

The next biopsy was done at a civilian facility with an amnesiac. Although I was really frightened from my first experience, I did not mind the next one at all! I was aware, not fully awake--can't remember the stick, but can remember discussing if he got a piece of tissue with the first stick.

I have changed doctors, and I am sure I will have yet another biopsy in the next few month--and as long as they use the amnesiac, I will be fine--but no more novocaine sticks for this chicken!
I had my first liver biopsy a few weeks ago. The most painful part was the administration of the local, which involved shooting the numbing solution into the area of the biopsy. The biopsy itself was uncomfortable, but not too painful. I was in some pain for about an hour afterwards, but a couple of Tylenol took care of that pretty well. You have to lie on your side for 4 hours afterwards, which is not fun, but after they let me move I felt fine.
I had my first biopsy almost three years ago. It was not a fun experience, but it wasn't as painful as what I had thought and it was over in a relatively short amount of time. I was uncomfortable for awhile afterwards, kind of a sore, achy feel, but it subsided with time.
My story's pretty similar. Had one just a few months ago. Took my laptop in with me and hacked cheerfully out through the hospital telephone lines so I could give a blow by blow account of my biopsy to several bored friends. I think this list was in the preliminary stages, least me and David and Jason were on it... ;-)

But it seemed no big deal. Other than--as usual, and as someone else mentioned--my absence of any easily identifiable veins for the blood tests. But I was given nothing for pain or relaxation--other than the nurse holding my hand ;-) --since the doc knew of my sordid past, I figured. But I was given a local anasthetic, then he marked the spot, then they couldn't find the scapel, then they found the scapel, then he made a minute cut, then he jabbed me--felt a little like a punch to the gut—and that was it. Had to lay on my side for a few hours. Didn't last the whole three. felt a little nauseous, but not bad. Biggest gripe was I was hungry, and didn't get enough to eat ;-)

Actually, first time I ever knew where my liver was, truthfully. Of course, now, every time I feel a twinge on my right side I think "OH-NO, There it goes!!!" and I tend to want to put my hand over my liver and pet it like a dog or something, but, basically it was No Big Deal...And you'll find out better where you stand.
I had a liver biopsy in October. It was a simple procedure, done with a local anaesthetic. You are probably wondering if it hurts. I felt the local a little, but couldn't feel the biopsy at all. :) There was a technician using ultrasound to help the doctor guide the needle. After that, they rolled me on a gurney to a room for observation. You have to lie on your side for a few hours. So basically, its not bad; take a book, and take it easy.
*I think the worst part was laying on the table waiting for the doctor to come in, this was before I really *knew* him very well, and having the nurses tell me that he usually ran late because he liked to party and was probably pretty hung over that early in the morning.
They all knew that I was a little paranoid and that this was my first experience with anything like this. I'd never even had an IV before.

Needless to say, I feel *very* lucky. My vet is *excellent* and honestly cares about me, not just a person with Hep he's treating. I just wish everyone of us had a similar doctor to deal with.
I was very shocked that the doctors are still doing this antiquted form of a liver biopsy. I was diagnosed 3 years ago june 1993. It was done at Cedars Medical Center of Miami but it was actually the University of Miami School of Medicine that the docs came from. The group of docs were headed by Dr. Eugene Schiff. The only biopsy they do there are laproscopic I was awake don't rember much, except it was nothing like the "punch" they look at your liver with that little lite find the best spot for the tissue to come from, take the tissue, watch to make sure no bleeders. and off you go. Actually I did have to stay 24 hours. It was not bad at all. Next biopsy anybody has to have demand on a laproscopy. They can look at everything else while there in there. I'v had another one since then and that also was not unpleasant. I think the key here is to be informed! I was also told it was much safer because they can watch the blood clotting before they close up. They even made me a video tape.

I did get pain meds, started out with 25mg phenegan iv 50mg demerol, and that was just for the procedure! I got a little paniky myself during the biopsy so they gave another 50mg demerol. I was told this was lite because usually they want you awake but not able to remember. I'm not ecxactly sure why that is, although I do see a point. Anyway I have a panic disorder, so I have to know everthing ahead of time. I actually was all prepped and with lines in and got scared and left the hospital the first time. I do remember everything only because I demanded it to be that way! There was a little "pulling" as the Dr. looked at my pancreas and so on but no actual pain. He also told me everything he was doing as he did it. Which helped alot. When I say I have a panic disorder we are talking severe!!! This was breeze once I got the first calming meds in the IV. I think that is what should be done first is GET THE SEDATING DRUGS in. Because of course everyone is scared to death wether they have panic problems or not. After the biopsy I was given one 100mg demerol IM upon request. And a prescription for percocett to take home.

After reading some of these stories I feel lucky. They were not real happy about the prescription to take home but, lets just say, I was persuasive. Let them know your paying them. Your money is green and it spends elseware real easy.!!!
Here is what happened during my biopsy on Thursday January 22, 1998: (I know it's a little wordy, but I didn't want to leave anything out).

9:00 Left home for York Hospital
9:35 Checked in at the hospital admissions office
9:55 I was taken into a room in Radiology where I shed my clothes, all except for my underwear, socks, and shoes, and put on a hospital robe (quite fashionable sun-dress pattern (I'm trying to be funny here), with loose sleeves, open in the back, and tied at the back of my neck). I put all my clothes and stuff into a plastic bag that went with me to the room where my biopsy was to be done.
10:00 I hopped up on a litter, where a needle-like thing was put into a vein on the back of my right hand. It was taped into place, and had a blue cap on it. The nurse said that was so they could administer stuff quickly if they had to. (I didn't realize how handy that would be until later.) Then I was asked to lie on my back, when the same nurse also put heart monitors on my chest, explaining that any hair I had on my chest under those little things would not be there afterwards (chuckle, chuckle). I guess that's part of the cost of being a manly man. She also put a little clip on my left index finger to take my pulse and a blood pressure cuff over my upper left arm. It ran automatically every once in a while, and the nurse monitored it on a machine next to me.
10:10 or 10:15 A nurse took the sonogram. It felt like she was spreading goo all over my right side and right front part of my chest (oh, baby!)
10:25 My doctor went over the sonogram with the Radiologist, looking for the best and safest shot at my liver.
10:30 My doctor had me turn my head to the left, and placed a towel over the right side, covering that side of my face. My view was of the nurse to my left, who was monitoring my heart and stuff. (The litter was a little uncomfortable, mainly because I'm used to sleeping on a full-flotation waterbed.) The doctor said I'd feel a couple of little bee stings, while she administered some lidocaine into my side. I think this was to numb my side up. It felt like some very little bee stings, only unlike bee stings, the stinging stopped when she was done. The doctor then told me I'd hear a loud clicking sound when the sample from my liver was harvested, and she didn't want to alarm me, so she set it off once before the procedure so I'd know what to expect. It sounded like a cap gun firing without a cap, but I could see how someone might be alarmed, and maybe flinch with a big needle inside them if they heard it and they didn't know it was coming.
10:35 My doctor told me she was ready, and asked if I was ready. I said yes. She told me about everything as she was doing it. I didn't feel anything when she first went in, but did feel a little pressure just before she was done. She said to be ready for the click; I heard the click; it was over. There was no pain to the procedure, or at least no serious pain.
10:45 My doctor had placed a gauze pad on the little tiny hole in my side, and put a giant sized piece of white tape over it (about 5" high by about 10" long). Then she asked me to lie on my right side. This was where I experienced the only pain I had, and it wasn't the place where the procedure was done. My right shoulder got numb to the place where it thumped with pain. The doctor said I had to lie on my right side that way for two hours to make sure the bleeding stopped. That's when I found out how helpful that IV-ready needle on the back of my right hand was.
10:50 My doctor okayed some Demerol, which the nurse injected into that little thing in my right hand, followed up with what she called a flush. The flush was supposed to help the medicine get to other parts of my body quicker. Within a couple minutes I started feeling tingly. The pain in my right shoulder had lessened just a little bit, but I felt so good otherwise that I didn't care! That Demerol stuff is okay with me!
10:55 My litter and I were wheeled to what is called the short-term area. My wife was summoned from the waiting room; she accompanied me to my room in the short-term area. The room had a little TV, and was just big enough for my litter, a chair, a heart monitor, and a sink. I shared a bathroom with the person in the next room, but not right away. I wasn't allowed to get up yet for another hour and 50 minutes. Fortunately, I didn't have to go that bad. I hate urinal bottles, and especially bedpans. The nurse asked if I wanted some liquid; I asked for a little ginger ale. I took little sips, with my wife holding the cup. It was hard for me to hold because of the way I was laying. The nurse hooked up the little clip to my right index finger to monitor my pulse, and my wife and I spent the next hour and 50 minutes watching the boob tube.
11:50 The pain started coming back into my right shoulder, but It was easier to take because I know there was less than an hour to go before I could lie on my back, or sit up. I tried to sleep a little.
12:35 The nurse asked me if I felt up to eating lunch. I was hungry, so I said yes. She ordered it for me, and said I could get off my side in a little while.
12:45 I turned on my back. What a relief! My shoulder still hurt for about 15 or 20 minutes, but then the pain went away altogether. My lunch came, and I sat up on my litter and cleaned up every last bite. It consisted of a piece of Salisbury steak with gravy, corn, a baked potato, a cup of grape juice, a cup of custard, and a cup of hot coffee. There was nothing left of it in about 15 minutes. I asked for another cup of coffee, which the nurse brought right over. I didn't realize how good coffee could taste, especially since I skipped my morning coffee!
13:00 I rested for the rest of the afternoon, reading the newspaper and watching TV with my wife.
16:00 The doctor stopped by to see how I was doing. She said if I felt okay, I could go home. My wife, Helen, asked me if I wanted to stop for dinner somewhere, so I asked my doctor if that would be okay. She said yes, as long as there was no hard physical activity or lifting involved. The doctorg wrote up instructions for me to follow when I went home.
16:30 My wife and I left the hospital, and went immediately to Chi-Chi's, which was about 15 or 20 minutes away.

The only restrictions I had on me after the procedure were:
1. No driving for 48 hours.
2. No physical activity, like lifting, for 72 hours.
3. Call if any bleeding happens, or if any thing else happens that could be related to the procedure.
I was instructed to call for a two-week appointment with the doctor to go over the results of the biopsy, and to start examining treatment options.
That's it! Not too bad!
After arriving at the hospital the nurse informed me that the doctor had not ordered a sedative for the procedure, so I felt assured that it would be painless and take only a few minutes. After one or two injucetions of topical anesthetic, he pierced the skin and I let out a cry. He was surprised that I felt the pain and he injected more anesthetic. The first pass came up empty. The second pass provided an insufficient sample but the third pass gave him a suitable piece of my liver!
After the second pass I writhed in pain and he curtly told me to lay still! I began to cry and put my hand down as an automatic response to the pain. He then ordered the nurse to hold my hands behind my head as he performed the third pass. At this point when I told him I could not go through it again he showed me the tissue sample that the right size. I cried and asked him for a pain shot which I received. I needed additional pain medication for the next seven days.

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