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How is a kidney biopsy done?

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Quick Answer

Most often, a kidney biopsy is done with a long needle that is inserted through the skin, according to Mayo Clinic. During a kidney biopsy, the patient is awake but the area is numbed with a local anesthetic. An ultrasound device is used to guide the needle into position.

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Full Answer

During a kidney biopsy, the patient lies face down, which allows access to the kidneys from the back, notes Mayo Clinic. People with kidney transplants are the exception and will lie on their back for the procedure. After the area is numbed and an imaging device is used to locate the incision site, the doctor will make a very small incision. The ultrasound is then used again as the needle is guided into the kidney. A special spring-loaded biopsy tool is used to take a sample. Sometimes more than one sample is needed. After the correct amount of tissue is taken, the biopsy site is bandaged.

A mild sedative may be given before a kidney biopsy if needed, according to Mayo Clinic. Immediately after the biopsy, the patient is monitored in a recovery room. Heart rate, breathing and blood pressure are checked, and a urinalysis and complete blood count test are done to check for complications before discharge. After the biopsy, it is normal to feel sore at the biopsy site.

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