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Kidney biopsy

Kidney - blood and urine flow
Renal biopsy

Definition

A renal biopsy is the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue for examination.

Alternative Names

Renal biopsy; Biopsy - kidney

How the Test is Performed

A kidney biopsy is done in the hospital. The two most common ways to do a kidney biopsy are percutaneous and open. These are described below.

Percutaneous biopsy

Open biopsy
In some cases, your doctor may recommend a surgical biopsy. This method is used when a larger piece of tissue is needed.

After percutaneous or open biopsy, you will likely stay in the hospital for at least 12 hours. You will receive pain medicines and fluids by mouth or through a vein (IV). Your urine will be checked for heavy bleeding. A small amount of bleeding is normal after a biopsy.

Follow instructions about caring for yourself after the biopsy. This may include not lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds for 2 weeks after the biopsy.

How to Prepare for the Test

Tell your health care provider:

How the Test Will Feel

Numbing medicine is used, so the pain during the procedure is often slight. The numbing medicine may burn or sting when first injected.

After the procedure, the area may feel tender or sore for a few days.

You may see bright, red blood in the urine the first 24 hours after the test. If the bleeding lasts longer, tell your health care provider.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order a kidney biopsy if you have:

An unexplained drop in kidney function

Blood in the urine that does not go away

Protein in the urine found during a urine test

A transplanted kidney, which needs to be monitored using a biopsy

Normal Results

A normal value is when the kidney tissue shows normal structure.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result means there are changes in the kidney tissue. This may be due to:

Risks

Risks include:

References

Lee YZ, McGregor JA, Chong WK. Ultrasound-guided kidney biopsies. Ultrasound Clin. 2009;4:45–55.

Salama AD, Cook HT. The renal biopsy. In: Taal MW, Chertow GM, Marsden Pa, et al., eds. Brenner and Rector’s The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.


Review Date: 9/30/2013
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.