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Pediatric Percutaneous Liver Biopsy
The perm in “percutaneous” means “to go through the skin.” During a percutaneous liver biopsy, a doctor places a needle through the skin of the right upper abdomen into the liver and takes small pieces of tissue to send to a laboratory for analysis. In most cases, the Interventional Radiology team at Children's National Hospital uses this procedure to determine why a child has increased liver enzymes. Causes include hepatitis or biliary atresia, which is the underdevelopment of the bile ducts leading to the small intestine.
Using ultrasound for guidance, your child's doctor inserts the needle into the liver to obtain small pieces of tissue. Then the doctor inserts a substance called Gelfoam® into the liver to minimize bleeding into the tract (where the needle went into the liver). The body absorbs the substance, which is harmless. We will put a bandage over the site of the injection.
No. The procedure will be performed with IV sedation or general anesthesia.
The procedure is considered low risk. However, potential complications include:
- Puncture of the lung (pneumothorax or hemothorax)
- Puncture of the gallbladder with subsequent bile leak
Your child may experience some discomfort and will need to rest in the recovery area for two to four hours. You can be with your child during this time. Most children do not experience bleeding. If we have any concerns, we will take a blood count (a CBC) to check for bleeding form the liver into the abdominal cavity. Outpatients with no concerns for bleeding will be able to go home.
Leave the bandage on for 48 hours. Then you may remove the bandage.
Keep the site dry for 48 hours. After 48 hours, your child may shower or have a sponge bath, but must keep the area dry. If showering, your child must face away from the showerhead. Do not submerge the site in water (bath or pool) until the site is healed.
Your child should rest after the procedure. The next day, your child may return to light activities, but must avoid strenuous activity or contact sports, including rough playing, for one week.
Learn about treatment
Interventional Radiology at Children's National Hospital
Our pediatric interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children and adolescents. Discover more about the treatment we offer.
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