Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
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.
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, your doctor can make a diagnosis and provide treatment.
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.
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
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 medical help 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 January 18, 2013. Accessed August 5, 2013.
Israel GM, Francis IR, Baumgarten DA, 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 August 5, 2013.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/: 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.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Adrienne Carmack, MD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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