Having a Kidney Biopsy

A renal biopsy involves the taking of a small piece of kidney tissue with a fine needle so that the tissue can be looked at under the microscope to find the cause of the renal problem. Tissue only has to be taken from one kidney, usually the left.

How should I prepare for the biopsy?

You have to be fasting at least four hours before the biopsy and you can only have a light breakfast prior to this on the day of the biopsy (e.g. cup of tea and a piece of toast).

Can I take all my medications?

You should not take Aspirin, Plavix, Iscover or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for 7 days before a renal biopsy as they increase the risk of bleeding.

You will also need to stop other blood thinners like warfarin, pradaxa, eliquis (please discuss with your kidney specialist).

On the day of the biopsy take all your regular medications except any blood thinners.

Where Do I Go?

The renal biopsy is performed as a day only procedure at Concord hospital.

On the day that the biopsy is booked you need to arrive at the Department of Radiology, Level 1 Main Building.

What Happens During the Biopsy?

An ultrasound of the kidneys will be performed to locate the kidneys

Local anaesthetic will be inserted under the skin (in your back) and also the area around the kidney.

Occasionally blood tests may be needed and at times, a cannula for intravenous medication.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, a fine needle will be inserted through the skin and into the kidney so that some kidney tissue can be removed. you will be asked to hold your breath while this is being done.

How Long Does it Take?

Including preparation time, the biopsy takes less than an hour.

After the biopsy however, you will be asked to lie flat for four hours in the recovery area.

If your urine is clear and blood pressure is okay, you will be allowed to go home after 4 hours.

Can I Drive Home?

No, you may not drive nor take public transport - you will need to be driven.

Do I have to take it easy when I get home?

Yes, you should avoid any heavy lifting for a week and any heavy exertion for 2-3 days.

The clear plastic bandage that covers the biopsy site maybe removed a day after the procedure.

What Are The Risks?

The main complication of renal biopsy is bleeding. Sometimes your urine can look bloody. This usually settles within an hour or two. Occasionally the bleeding persists and you will then need to stay in hospital overnight until the bleeding has stopped.

Rarely, (less than 1 in a 100) the bleeding does not stop by itself and you may also need a blood transfusion and a procedure to stop the bleeding.

The other possible complication of renal biopsy is pain and this is usually a bruised feeling, which persists for 2-3days. You may need to take paracetamol for pain relief. Rarely, the pain can be more severe which is usually associated with bleeding around the kidney and may take a few days to settle down.

If you have any further questions about how the renal biopsy is performed or any possible complications, please speak to your kidney specialist