539806 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Kidney Biopsy

    (Biopsy, Kidney; Renal Biopsy; Biopsy, Renal)


    A kidney biopsy is the removal of a small piece of kidney tissue or cells. A pathologist (a doctor who specializes in tissue diagnosis) uses a microscope to look at the tissue for abnormalities.
    Kidney ureter
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Reasons for Procedure

    A kidney biopsy is done to diagnose a disease or medical condition.
    A kidney biopsy may be done if you have:
    • Blood in the urine
    • High levels of protein in the urine
    • Low kidney function
    • A growth on the kidney
    • Kidney infection
    • Cyst on the kidney
    Once the tissue is examined, your doctor can make a diagnosis and provide treatment.
    If you had a kidney transplant , it may also be done to see if your new kidney is working properly.

    Possible Complications

    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:
    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Pain
    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the biopsy.

    What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure

      Before the biopsy, your doctor may order urine tests, blood tests, and x-rays of your kidneys.
      • You should ask your doctor when you can expect to know the biopsy results.
    • Arrange for a ride home after your biopsy.
    • Your doctor may ask you to fast or eat lightly before your biopsy.
    • Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure like:
      • Anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, aspirin )
      • Blood thinners like clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)


    You will receive a local anesthetic to numb your skin. You may also receive a light sedative.

    Description of Procedure

    This procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting with no need for an overnight stay. Your skin will be cleaned; this may be on your back or abdomen. The doctor will then inject a local anesthetic 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. Once the samples are collected, a bandage will be placed on your skin.

    How Long Will It Take?

    About an hour

    How Much Will It Hurt?

    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

    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. Once you are feeling well and the doctor feels it is safe, you will be sent home.
    At Home
    When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Rest to prevent bleeding. You should usually rest for the first 24-48 hours after the biopsy. Do not lift or exercise until your doctor says it is okay.
    • Keep your biopsy site clean and dry.
    • Check your urine. You may notice some blood in your urine. This is normal for the first 24 hours. If there is bleeding for longer than 24 hours or a lot of bleeding, call your doctor.
    • Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions .

    Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Bloody urine 24 hours after biopsy or a lot of blood in the urine
    • Difficulty urinating
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Dizziness
    • Pain that is worse at biopsy site
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
    • Always feeling the need to urinate
    • Pain or burning when you urinate
    • Redness or drainage at biopsy site
    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    National Kidney Foundation http://www.kidney.org

    National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html

    The Kidney Foundation of Canada http://www.kidney.ab.ca


    How is kidney cancer diagnosed? American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/cri/content/cri%5F2%5F4%5F3x%5Fhow%5Fis%5Fkidney%5Fcancer%5Fdiagnosed%5F22.asp?sitearea=cri . Accessed September 22, 2009.

    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 22, 2009.

    Scholten A. Biopsy. EBSCO Health Library. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Last reviewed December 2008. Last updated July 24, 2009. Accessed September 22, 2009.

    6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : 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.e8.

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