In my case, and with a lot of other people I've talked to who have had a a liver biopsy, the anticipation was much worse than the actual procedure. I think if my doctor had given me some type of medication beforehand to help me relax, the whole experience would have been a lot better.

Here's my account of the adventure:

The typical "no eating or drinking after midnight" rule applies here, because this is considered a surgery. So, the morning of the biopsy, I'm hungry, thirsty, and scared. Not a good way to start off a day, huh?

After I got checked into a hospital room, the nurse came in and started an IV, "just in case of complications". I *hate* IV's, they can never find a vein. After a few mis-guided pokes, the IV is in place. She then realizes I haven't changed into a hospital gown, so we deal with that and then I get to read and sign all the scary "what if" paperwork.

The doctor comes breezing in a while later, and tells me to relax. I ask him for something to help me relax, and he says he has done hundreds of these procedures and finds it better if the patient is fully alert. He explained that I would need to be able to hold my breath right before the biopsy needle is inserted, and that if I'm too relaxed, it could interfere with my ability to do so.
I don't like it, but I agree. He then has me lay on my back. He taps around on my right side for a few minutes, at the ribcage area, looking for the right spot to take a sample of my liver. I asked him why he doesn't use ultrasound to be sure he's getting the right organ, and he again says he has done enough biopsies not to need the extra help finding a liver. Then comes the "just relax, everything will be fine" speech. I tell him to get on the bed and let *me* be the one about to ram a long needle into *his* side, and see how relaxed he is!! (My attempts at humor don't amuse him [grin])

The doctor finds his target area, and begins to numb my side, layer by layer, using a local anesthetic. Now *this* hurt!! Okay, it wasn't much worse than going to the dentist and getting a shot of novacaine in the jaw, but I still didn't like it!!! After the area is numb, the doctor says, "hold your breath"! I do, and he inserts the biopsy needle, and the whole thing is over in a matter of seconds!! I didn't feel anything other than pressure. Amazing! I had worried for weeks over this, and that's all there was to it!

After I look at the teeny sample of liver tissue, the doctor leaves the room and the nurse puts a bandage on the biopsy site, and tells me to lie on my right side. She tells me not to move, and to stay on my side for 2 hours. She says this it to put pressure on the site and to help control any unnecessary bleeding. (How boring this was - lying still in the same position for 2 hours!) She constantly monitors my blood pressure and temperature for the next 2 hours, and after she was reassured that I wasn't having any adverse affects or abnormal bleeding from the biopsy, I was allowed to roll over on my back. Then I got a tray of that nice hospital food. Best stuff I ever tasted....I was starving [grin] I had to stay still for 4 more hours, then was released to go home.

Piece o' cake!

Update: 4/97
I just had my second biopsy and it was *totally* different than the first one! Everything went the same as last time, except that this one HURT!!!! The doctor knicked my right lung and hit a nerve in my diaphragm with the biopsy needle... it felt like my entire abdomen was on fire and I couldn't breathe for a few minutes, as if someone had punched me in the side with their fist. The doctor examined me and listened to my lungs and assured me that everything was okay and that this was just one of those things and that the pain would go away eventually and not to worry about it. It's been 2 days since the biopsy and I still can't take a deep breath or make any sudden movements without shooting pains. It feels like my ribs are bruised and maybe a little pleurisy going on. I suppose time will tell whether this goes away or not! I'll update this section of my page when and if it goes away.

So I guess I just got lucky on my first biopsy with no pain at all, or maybe was just unlucky with this one...?

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