JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of liver biopsy procedure by needle. Biopsy is a diagnostic test in which tissue or cells are removed from the body for microscopic examination. Here, a needle (or aspiration) biopsy involves intercostal penetration between the rib bones (yellow spongy ovals at left) to reach the liver (at centre, brown). Part of the digestive tract can be seen at lower right. Before a needle is inserted, the area is first numbed with local anaesthetic although occasionally a general anaes- thetic is needed. A needle attached to a syringe is then inserted into the organ to be investigated and cells are sucked out. In this way, liver cir- rhosis and types of hepatitis are diagnosed.
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