Kidney Biopsy

Diagnosing potential problems with your kidney

A kidney biopsy is a procedure that takes tissue samples from the organ to be examined to help diagnose problems with your kidneys.

When Do You Need a Kidney Biopsy?

You may need a kidney biopsy to:

  • Check the functioning of a transplanted kidney
  • Determine why you have a decline in kidney function, if the cause is unknown
  • Find out if a tumor is cancerous
  • Find out why you have protein or blood in your urine

How is a Kidney Biopsy Performed?

A kidney biopsy takes a sample of kidney tissue by using a special needle or surgical procedure.

A needle biopsy is the most common. During this procedure, you lie on your stomach. The area where the needle will be inserted is numbed with a local anesthetic and you may also be given a light sedative. Then, with either ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) to guide placement, the needle is inserted into your back to take the sample. Several samples may be taken, with each one lasting about 30 seconds.

If a needle biopsy is not possible, you may have a surgical procedure where an incision is made to obtain the kidney tissue. During surgical biopsy, you would be placed under general anesthesia and be asleep during the biopsy.

What to Expect from Kidney Biopsy

When Do You Need a Kidney Biopsy?

You may need a kidney biopsy to:

  • Check the functioning of a transplanted kidney
  • Determine why you have a decline in kidney function, if the cause is unknown
  • Find out if a tumor is cancerous
  • Find out why you have protein or blood in your urine

How is a Kidney Biopsy Performed?

A kidney biopsy takes a sample of kidney tissue by using a special needle or surgical procedure.

A needle biopsy is the most common. During this procedure, you lie on your stomach. The area where the needle will be inserted is numbed with a local anesthetic and you may also be given a light sedative. Then, with either ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) to guide placement, the needle is inserted into your back to take the sample. Several samples may be taken, with each one lasting about 30 seconds.

If a needle biopsy is not possible, you may have a surgical procedure where an incision is made to obtain the kidney tissue. During surgical biopsy, you would be placed under general anesthesia and be asleep during the biopsy.

  • Why do I need a biopsy?
  • Will the biopsy cause pain? How long will the pain last?
  • What type of biopsy will you be doing?
  • After we get the results, what are the next steps?

Questions to Ask Your Provider About Kidney Biopsy

  • Why do I need a biopsy?
  • Will the biopsy cause pain? How long will the pain last?
  • What type of biopsy will you be doing?
  • After we get the results, what are the next steps?

NIDDK

Information about kidney biopsy from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Resources

NIDDK

Information about kidney biopsy from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Patient Stories for Kidney Biopsy