A kidney biopsy is a procedure to remove tissue from the kidneys to be analyzed in a lab. Another word for kidneys is renal - meaning relating to the kidneys - so it may also be called a renal biopsy. The test is usually performed on a patient that presents with abnormal kidney function either in symptoms or blood work. The test is performed in a hospital outpatient department, meaning the patient goes home the same day. There may be several questions a patient has about the test and recovery. We have put together some frequently asked questions that may help.
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist located in the lower back area. The primary function of the kidneys is to filter out waste from the body in the form of urine. They also regulate things like blood pressure, blood volume, and ph levels. Living a healthy life with only one kidney is possible. Some people donate a kidney to someone who needs a kidney transplant due to kidney failure.
Several medical issues may present the need for a biopsy. The most common reason is signs of abnormal kidney function that usually start with physical symptoms and is confirmed by bloodwork. A biopsy may also be ordered if a tumor is discovered in the kidney to determine if the tumor is cancerous or benign. It can also be used to check how well a transplanted kidney is working or to monitor the progression of kidney disease.
Two different types of kidney biopsies are typically performed either in a radiology department or at an outpatient department. A percutaneous biopsy is the most common, and it is when a long needed is inserted into the kidney to extract tissues for examination. An open biopsy is typically performed under anesthesia on people with only one kidney or previous bleeding problems. It is a more invasive procedure where a small incision is made to access the kidney. A larger sample of tissue is then removed from the kidney.
Preparation for a kidney biopsy depends on what type of procedure you are having. Patients meet with a physician ahead of a scheduled biopsy to go over pertinent medical history and any medications. It may be suggested that certain medications be stopped before the procedure. The most important thing is to remember to fast for at least eight hours before any procedure with anesthesia. Patients also need to make sure they have someone to drive them from the appointment.
Recovery from a kidney biopsy depends on a couple of things. It depends on the type of biopsy you have had and your health conditions. Patients are brought to a recovery room after the procedure where vitals are monitored. Most patients go home the same day for a needle biopsy. Home recovery is generally 12 to 24 hours after the procedure. Bed rest and medications to keep you comfortable will be recommended during this time. Avoid any heavy lifting for the first few days after a biopsy.
Unless there is a need for an open biopsy, general anesthesia is not typically used. A percutaneous biopsy is done with the patient awake. After the area is cleaned properly, the doctor will administer a local anesthetic. This will numb only the area where the biopsy will be performed. The patient will feel pressure but shouldn't feel any pain at all. It is the same type of anesthetic you would have during a dental procedure where only that area is affected.
A percutaneous biopsy is usually done in about an hour. The actual procedure of gathering the tissue itself takes only about 30 seconds. Most of the time is spent setting up the patient and waiting for the local anesthesia to work. An open biopsy could take longer than an hour because of the extra precautions and surgery involved.
There are indeed risks to any surgical procedure, but most of the risk comes from the use of general anesthesia. It is essential to give a detailed report of your health history and family history to the doctor at consultation. Another rare risk is that of developing an infection after the procedure. Report any fever, increase in pain, or redness and swelling to your doctor immediately.
Once the kidney tissue is successfully harvested from the body, the specimen is sent to a pathologist. A pathologist is a specialist in disease diagnosis who will examine the tissue to determine the results. Unless there is a STAT request by your doctor, the results are usually back in about a week. If the tissue shows a normal structure, the result is normal. Any abnormalities in the tissue will be considered an abnormal result.
If the biopsy results come back with abnormal results, this is an indication of a problem that needs further testing. It is important not to get too worried until you speak to your physician. An abnormal result could be done to several conditions some serious and some easily treatable. Knowing family history and your history can really help a doctor start in the right place. Some conditions an abnormal result could indicate are a kidney infection, kidney cancer, a complicated urinary tract infection, or several other diseases that involve kidney function.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.