Kidney Biopsy

(Biopsy, Kidney; Renal Biopsy; Biopsy, Renal)

Definition

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.

Kidneys

Kidney ureter
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Reasons for Procedure    TOP

A kidney biopsy is done to diagnose a disease or medical condition.

A kidney biopsy may be done if you have:

  • Blood in the urine
  • High levels of protein in the urine
  • Low kidney function
  • A growth on the kidney
  • Kidney infection
  • A cyst on the kidney

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.

Possible Complications    TOP

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:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Pain

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.

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

  • Before the biopsy, your doctor may order urine tests, blood tests, and x-rays of your kidneys.
    • You should ask your doctor when you can expect to know the biopsy results.
  • Arrange for a ride home after your biopsy.
  • Your doctor may ask you to fast or eat lightly before your biopsy.
  • Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.

Anesthesia

You will receive a local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may also receive a light sedative.

Description of Procedure    TOP

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.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About an hour

How Much Will It Hurt?    TOP

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.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

At the Care Center

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.

At Home

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Do not lift or exercise until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Bloody urine 24 hours after biopsy or a lot of blood in the urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pain that is worse at biopsy site
  • Pain that you cannot control with the medications that you have been given
  • A constant urge to urinate
  • Pain or burning when you urinate
  • Redness or drainage at biopsy site

In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

National Kidney Foundation
http://www.kidney.org
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Kidney Foundation of Canada
http://www.kidney.ab.ca

References:

How is kidney cancer diagnosed? American Cancer Society website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 2, 2010. Accessed June 15, 2015.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
...(Click grey area to select URL)
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

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