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Kidney biopsy

Kidney - blood and urine flow
Renal biopsy


A kidney 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 provider.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may order a kidney biopsy if you have:

Normal Results

A normal result 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 include:


Barisoni L, Arend LJ, Thomas DB. Introduction to renal biopsy. In: Zhou M, Mari-Galluzzi C, eds. Genitourinary Pathology: Foundations in Diagnostic Pathology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 7.

Topham PS, Chen Y. Renal biopsy. In: Johnson RJ, Feehally J, Floege J, eds. Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 6.

Review Date: 8/31/2015
Reviewed By: Jennifer Sobol, DO, Urologist with the Michigan Institute of Urology, West Bloomfield, MI. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.