Renal Biopsy

A Kidney biopsy is a diagnostic test that involves collecting small pieces of tissue, usually through a needle, for examination with a microscope.
A kidney biopsy can help in forming a diagnosis and in choosing the best course of treatment.
A kidney biopsy may be recommended for any of the following conditions:

  • Hematuria, which is blood in the urine
  • Proteinuria, which is excessive protein in the urine
  • Impaired kidney function, which causes excessive waste products in the blood
  • To evaluate a Transplanted Kidney

The most common way to perform a kidney Biopsy is using Ultrasound guidance. Kidney biopsies may also be done using CT scan guidance. Under some circumstances, the biopsy may be performed by running the biopsy catheter through one of the neck veins -- this is called a transjugular biopsy.
A pathologist will look at the kidney tissue samples to check for unusual deposits, scarring, or infecting organisms that would explain a person’s condition.
Before the kidney biopsy, patients should

    • Talk with their doctors to make sure they understand the need for a biopsy
    • Sign a consent form
    • Tell doctor about pregnancy or any drug allergies or bleeding problems
    • Follow their doctors’ orders for food & fluid restrictions

After the kidney biopsy, patients should

    • Lie on their backs—or stomachs if they have a transplanted kidney—for a few hours
    • Report any problems, such as
      • Bloody urine more than 24 hours after the test
      • Inability to urinate
      • Fever
      • Worsening pain
      • Faintness or dizziness

Risks include

  • Bleeding from the kidney (in rare cases, may require a blood transfusion)
  • Bleeding into the muscle, which might cause soreness
  • Infection (small risk)

A normal value is when the kidney tissue shows normal structure.
An abnormal result means there are changes in the kidney tissue. This may be due to infection, poor blood flow through the kidney, connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, or other diseases that may be affecting the kidney.

For transplant patients, an abnormal kidney biopsy may be a sign of transplant rejection.