Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Needle Biopsy of the Kidney: Before Your Procedure
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Needle Biopsy of the Kidney: Before Your Procedure

Kidneys, ureters, bladder

What is a kidney biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure to collect small pieces of tissue to look at under a microscope. A kidney biopsy may be done to check for problems or when other tests show a kidney problem. For example, you may get one if a test shows that you have blood or protein in your urine. The biopsy is usually done by putting a long, thin needle through the back and into the kidney. The doctor may do several biopsies to make sure there is a good sample.

The doctor may use ultrasound to guide the needle during the biopsy. The area will be numb.

The biopsy itself will take 15 to 30 minutes. The whole procedure will take about an hour.

After the procedure, you'll stay in the hospital or surgery centre for several hours to make sure there are no problems. Most people can go home the same day. You may need someone to drive you home.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • You may need to stop eating and drinking before the day of the procedure. If this is the case, your doctor will tell you what to do.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  • You will be asked to lie on an examination table. A sandbag, a firm pillow, or a rolled towel will be placed under your body to support your belly.
  • As the doctor inserts the biopsy needle, you may feel a sharp pain for a few seconds. You may hear a noise from the spring-loaded tool your doctor uses to take the biopsy. You may also feel a pop or sudden pressure change when the biopsy needle pushes through your skin.
  • During the biopsy, you may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds. This makes sure that your kidney doesn't move during the biopsy.
  • After the biopsy, you will rest in bed for 6 to 24 hours.
  • If no problems develop, you will be able to go home.
  • The procedure will take about 15 to 30 minutes.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter I330 in the search box to learn more about "Needle Biopsy of the Kidney: Before Your Procedure".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.