A percutaneous (through the skin) renal (kidney) biopsy is a procedure where, under local anaesthetic (LA), a needle is passed through the skin into the kidney to obtain a piece of kidney tissue. The piece of kidney tissue can then be examined under the microscope to ascertain what is causing your kidney problem. The kidney is identified with ultrasound equipment in the radiology department, and the ultrasound scan used to guide the needle into the kidney for the biopsy. .

Why is the biopsy necessary?
Investigation of kidney disease includes a combination of history, examination, and both radiology and laboratory tests. Sometimes these tests do not complete the picture of the condition affecting the kidneys. The kidney biopsy is required in order to both guide in the treatment of the condition, and give information about the prognosis (outlook, or what the future may bring).

The main reasons for a biopsy are: abnormal kidney function (elevated plasma creatinine), and / or proteinuria (protein in the urine), and / or haematuria (blood in the urine).

How long does the biopsy take?
The actual procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Often the biopsy can be performed as a day case. This means no overnight stay. After the biopsy you will need to remain for observation for several hours.

When may I return to work?
Most retired people, sedentary people, home and office workers usually can return to normal activities after two (2) days rest. No heavy lifting or moving of heavy items (eg. furniture, baskets of wet-washing, or heavy bags of grocery items) for two days. Physically active people (e.g. manual labouring occupations, long-haul drivers, and sports people) should not return to their normal activities for three to four days. This is to minimise the risk of bleeding late after the biopsy.