The most commonly asked questions, answered
A kidney biopsy involves taking one or more tiny pieces (samples) of your kidney to examine with special microscopes. The biopsy sample may be taken in one of two ways: Percutaneous (through the skin) biopsy: a needle placed through the skin that lies over the kidney and guided to the right place in the kidney, usually with the help of ultrasound. Open biopsy: the kidney sample is taken directly from the kidney during surgery and then sent to a pathologist for examination.
There are a number of conditions that a kidney biopsy will detect. Such as blood in the urine (hematuria) or protein in the urine (proteinuria); abnormal blood test results; acute or chronic kidney disease with no clear cause; nephrotic syndrome and glomerular disease (which happens when the filtering units of the kidney are damaged). A kidney biopsy is usually performed in hospital and an overnight stay may be needed to watch for any problems. You may be awake with only light sedation, or asleep under general anesthesia. You will be lying face down with a pillow under your rib cage. The patient may need to rest in bed for 12 to 24 hours after the biopsy, or as directed by the doctor. Remaining still on bed helps to heal the site where the kidney sample was taken and lessen the chance of bleeding. Your blood pressure and pulse are checked often to look for any signs of bleeding inside your body, or other problems.