What is kidney biopsy?

A kidney biopsy, also known as renal biopsy is a procedure wherein a small section of kidney tissue is removed with the help of a needle, to examine under the microscope. The test helps to identify the cause, and possible treatment of the kidney disease.  

Why is it required?

Kidney biopsy is recommended for certain patients with kidney diseases. It is performed when other blood and urine tests cannot give enough information or when there is a need of a confirming evidence. 

Following are the indications for doing a kidney biopsy:

  • Blood in urine
  • Protein in urine (proteinuria)
  • Problem with kidney function – if kidneys suddenly or gradually stop functioning 
  • To check the functions of a transplanted kidney

How is the procedure done?

Percutaneous biopsy

It is done by inserting a needle through the skin. The doctor identifies the biopsy site using a sonogram. The site of needle insertion is cleaned, marked and anesthetised. Pressure may be felt during the insertion and it is advised to hold breath for 45 seconds or less. Once sample is taken, the needle is removed and the puncture site is bandaged. 

What are the common complications involved in a kidney biopsy?

No serious complication are involved in the procedure.  Minor complications like bleeding, pain, development of abnormal communication between two blood vessels (fistula) may occur.     
Rare complications include:

  • Internal bleeding into the kidney 
  • Infection 

What instructions should be followed after the procedure?
The patient is advised to follow the below mentioned instructions after a kidney biopsy:

  • Take rest for 16-24 hours
  • Avoid blood thinning medications
  • Contact the doctor in the case of-
    • Fever
    • Difficulty in urination
    • Bloody urine
    • Pain at the site of biopsy
    • Dizziness
    • Burning sensation while passing urine

Test results of a kidney biopsy
The sample collected is further sent to pathologists for the interpretation of the procedure. The pathologist will analyse the sample for the presence of any abnormality using microscope and reactive dyes. It takes about 4-5 days to generate the results, however, in some cases the doctor may contact the patient within 24 hours.

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