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Pediatric Transjugular Liver Biopsy
A liver biopsy is a procedure in which small pieces of liver tissue are extracted and sent to a laboratory for evaluation. Usually, the biopsy is performed by inserting a needle through the skin into the liver; this can sometimes result in bleeding from the liver into the abdomen.
A child with increased risk of bleeding or with a large amount of fluid in the abdomen will require a different type of biopsy, called a transjugular liver biopsy. During this procedure, the Interventional Radiology team at Children's National Hospital will thread a catheter (a thin tube) through the internal jugular vein in the neck and into the liver. This way, if the liver bleeds, blood goes into a vein, instead of the abdomen.
Using ultrasound and live X-ray (fluoroscopy) for guidance, your child's doctor will insert the catheter into the vein in the neck and guide it into the primary vein in the liver. A tiny needle will be inserted through the catheter and into the liver to obtain pieces of tissue.
No. Your child will be asleep with general anesthesia.
Your child may have mild discomfort at the insertion site.
The procedure is considered low risk. However, potential complications include:
- Puncture of adjacent structures (such as other veins or arteries)
- Air embolism (air bubbles in the bloodstream; rarely occurs)
Your child may experience some discomfort and will need to stay in bed for four hours in the recovery area. After approximately four hours, a blood count (CBC) will be taken to monitor your child for bleeding if needed. If the test is normal, children who are outpatient will be able to go home.
Leave the bandage on your child’s neck for 24 hours. Then you may remove your child's bandage.
Your child shouldn’t shower or take a bath for 24 hours. After that, your child may resume normal bathing.
Your child should rest the day of the procedure. The next day, your child can return to light activities but should avoid strenuous activity and contact sports 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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