A kidney biopsy is the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue or cells. The tissue or cells are checked in a lab.
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Kidney biopsies can help diagnose health conditions.
You may need one if you have:
A treatment plan can be made once the cause of the problems is determined.
A biopsy can tell how well the new kidney is working if you had a transplant.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. Your doctor will review a list of possible problems such as:
Smoking may make the chances of having these problems higher.
You will receive a local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may also receive a light sedative.
A local anesthetic will be placed neart the biopsy site. The kidney will be found using an ultrasound or x-ray. Long needles will be inserted to collect tissue samples. A special instrument may be used to insert the needles. 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. Medicines will ease any pain afterwards.
You'll be watched for a few hours. You will be asked to remain lying down to lower the chance of bleeding. Your pulse and blood pressure will be checked. You will be sent home when you are feeling well and the doctor feels that it's safe.
You may have to avoid lifting or exercise until the area is healed. Clean the incision site as advised to avoid infection.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Kidney Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Heilbrun ME, Remer EM, Casalino DD, et al. ACR Appropriateness Criteria indeterminate renal mass. J Am Coll Radiol. 2015;12(4):333-341.
Kidney biopsy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/kidney-biopsy. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Tests for kidney cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 1/29/2021