A kidney biopsy is the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue or cells. A doctor who specializes in tissue diagnosis uses a microscope to look at the tissue for abnormalities.
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A kidney biopsy is done to diagnose a disease or medical condition.
A kidney biopsy may be done if you have:
After the tissue is examined, a diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin.
If you had a kidney transplant, this procedure may be done to see if your new kidney is working properly.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you have a kidney biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Smoking may increase the risk of complications. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the biopsy.
You will receive a local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may also receive a light sedative.
This procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting with no need for an overnight stay. Your skin on your back or abdomen may be cleaned. A local anesthetic will be injected into the area where the biopsy will be taken. Next, your kidney will be located using either ultrasound or x-ray. Then, long needles will be inserted to collect tissue samples. A special instrument may be used to insert the needles. During the collection, you may be asked to hold your breath. After the samples are collected, a bandage will be placed on your skin.
About an hour
The local anesthetic will block the pain during the biopsy. Afterwards, you may feel sore where the biopsy was taken. Ask your doctor which pain reliever is right for you.
You will be monitored for a few hours after your biopsy. You will be asked to remain lying down to reduce the chance of bleeding. Your pulse and blood pressure will be monitored. Your biopsy samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing. You will be sent home when you are feeling well and the doctor feels that it is safe.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Kidney Foundation
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
How is kidney cancer diagnosed? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidneycancer/detailedguide/kidney-cancer-adult-diagnosis. Updated March 3, 2015. Accessed June 15, 2015.
Israel GM, Francis IR, et al; Expert Panel on Urologic Imaging. Indeterminate renal mass. American College of Radiology (ACR); 2007.
Kidney biopsy. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/biopsy/. Accessed September 2, 2010. Accessed June 15, 2015.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD Last Updated: 5/28/2014