Kidney biopsy

What is it?

A renal biopsy is a procedure by which a small piece of kidney tissue is removed and analyzed under a microscope for signs of inflammation or disease. In most cases it is performed by inserting a needle through the skin into the kidney, often with the help of imaging devices (e.g. ultrasound).

When is this exam indicated?

A kidney biopsy may be required to:

  • diagnose a kidney disorder that cannot be identified otherwise
  • decide on a treatment plan based on the condition of the kidney
  • evaluate the benign or malignant nature of a kidney tumor
  • assess the aggressiveness of a malignant kidney tumor
  • evaluate the effectiveness of certain treatments for kidney disorders   

How is it performed?

The procedure is assisted by ultrasound or CT scanning. In some cases, it may be necessary to use contrast medium to identify important anatomical features such as vascular or renal structures. Once the area to be biopsied is identified, the skin is disinfected and the biopsy needle is inserted. A local anesthetic, previously applied, will render the area of entry numb. Sometimes the needle must be inserted more than once to reach the correct area. When enough material has been withdrawn, the needle is removed and the wound disinfected and bandaged. The whole procedure takes about one hour.     

Contraindications

This examination cannot be performed in case of: coagulation disorders, severe uncontrollable hypertension, current renal or peri-renal infections, skin infections at the biopsy area.   

Refences

Capitanio U, Volpe A. Renal Tumor Biopsy: More Dogma Belied. European Urology. 2015;68(6):1014-1015. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2015.05.007.

2. Capitanio U, Larcher A, Fallara G, et al. Parenchymal biopsy in the treatment of patients with renal cancer. World J Urol. 2021. 

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