Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Liver Biopsy



A small sample is taken of the liver using a special biopsy needle. The needle is usually passed through the left or right body wall, in particular locations. The correct location is usually determined using ultrasound. In some cases, the needle is visualized real-time with the ultrasound as it enters the liver tissue.

The sample is placed in a preservative (formaldehyde) and shipped to a laboratory. Tiny slices of the sample are prepared and visualized by a pathologist. The structure of the tissue and cell types are determined. A report is generated which is interpreted by the veterinarian in light of the other case details.


The only way to get truly definitive information about a specific disease process, at the tissue and cellular level.

Generally, a relatively safe and straightforward procedure with great diagnostic value.


Time delay of days before the sample is interpreted by a pathologist and the report received by the attending veterinarian.

As with disease of any organ, the diseased areas may be focal and the sample taken does not contain the disease.


  • Is there any risk to the procedure?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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