You'll have a kidney biopsy at a hospital or outpatient center. An IV will be placed before the procedure starts.
During the procedure
During the biopsy, you'll be awake and lie on your abdomen or your side, depending on which position allows best access to your kidney. For biopsy of a transplanted kidney, most people lie on their backs.
A percutaneous biopsy takes about an hour and includes these steps:
- With an ultrasound probe, your doctor identifies exactly where to insert the needle. In some cases, a CT scan may be used instead of ultrasound.
- Your doctor marks your skin, cleans the area and applies a numbing medication (local anesthetic).
- If you experience pain not controlled by local anesthetic, your doctor may give you pain medication through your IV during the procedure.
- Your doctor makes a small incision where the needle will go in and uses the ultrasound device to guide the needle into your kidney.
- You may be asked to hold your breath as your doctor collects a sample using a spring-loaded instrument. You may feel a "pop" or pressure and hear a sharp clicking noise.
- Your doctor may need to insert the needle several times — often through the same incision — to get enough tissue.
- Your doctor removes the needle and places a small bandage on the incision.
Other kidney biopsy procedures
Percutaneous kidney biopsy isn't an option for some people. If you have a history of bleeding problems, have a blood-clotting disorder or have only one kidney, your doctor may consider a laparoscopic biopsy.
In this procedure, your doctor makes a small incision and inserts a thin, lighted tube with a video camera at its tip (laparoscope). This tool allows the doctor to view your kidney on a video screen and remove tissue samples.
After the procedure
After the biopsy, you can expect to:
- Spend time in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse and breathing will be monitored.
- Have urinalysis and complete blood count tests done to check for bleeding and other complications.
- Rest quietly for several hours.
- Receive written instructions about your recovery.
- Feel some soreness or pain at the biopsy site for a few hours. You'll be given medications to relieve pain.
Most people can leave the hospital the same day. You may need to rest in bed for 12 to 24 hours after the biopsy, as directed by your doctor. Your health care team will let you know about any activity restrictions, such as avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
Your kidney tissue goes to a lab to be examined by a doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease (pathologist). The pathologist uses microscopes and dyes to look for unusual deposits, scarring, infection or other abnormalities in the kidney tissue.
Call your doctor if you experience:
May 15, 2015
- Significant bright red blood or clots in your urine more than 24 hours after the biopsy
- Inability to pass urine
- Worsening pain at the biopsy site
- Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
- Faintness or weakness
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- Kidney biopsy. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/biopsy/index.aspx. Accessed March 7, 2015.
- Whittier WL, et al. Indications for and complications of renal biopsy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 7, 2015.
- Taal MW, et al. The renal biopsy. In: Brenner & Rector's The Kidney. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 14, 2015.
- Kidney biopsy: A guide for patients. National Kidney Foundation. http://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/docs/11-10-0106_patbro_renalbiopsy.pdf. Accessed March 7, 2015.
- El-Zoghby ZM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2015.
- Walls DJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 18, 2015.
- Castle EP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. March 22, 2015.