(Biopsy, Kidney; Renal Biopsy; Biopsy, Renal)
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
A kidney biopsy is the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue or cells. The tissue or cells are evaluated under a microscope to look for abnormalities.
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:
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:
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
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.
When you return home you may have to avoid lifting or exercise until the biopsy area is healed. Follow any instructions on cleaning the incision site to avoid infection.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
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.
How is kidney cancer diagnosed? American Cancer Society website. Available at:
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Updated February 10, 2016. Accessed September 6, 2016.
Kidney biopsy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diagnostic-tests/kidney-biopsy/Pages/kidney-biopsy.aspx. Updated November 2015. Accessed September 6, 2016.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's 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 May 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
Last Updated: 5/28/2014
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