What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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You'll have a kidney biopsy at a hospital or outpatient center. Before the biopsy, your health care team may offer a light sedative to help you relax during the procedure.

During the procedure

During the biopsy, you'll be awake and lie on your abdomen, so your kidneys are positioned near the surface of your back. If the biopsy is for a transplanted kidney, you'll lie on your back instead.

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).
  • 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'll take a deep breath and hold it 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.
  • You'll remain still, continuing to hold your breath, for the time it takes to collect the tissue — 30 to 45 seconds.
  • 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 for 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:

  • Significant bright red blood or clots in your urine more than 24 hours after the biopsy
  • Inability to pass urine
  • Fever
  • Worsening pain at the biopsy site
  • Fever over 100.4 F (38 C)
  • Faintness or weakness
Jun. 19, 2012