A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from an organ of the body. It allows the tissue removed to be examined under a microscope in a laboratory in order to see if there are any problems with it.
When kidneys stop working properly, doctors want to find out why. In some instances this can only be done by taking a small specimen from one of a person’s kidneys and looking at it to see if it can reveal what is causing the kidney failure.
Before the procedure can start the medical team will make sure that it is safe to proceed. Your blood pressure will be checked and a blood sample taken. These tests will tell the team how well your kidneys are working and help them to be sure that there is only the smallest risk of any bleeding after the biopsy has been performed. You will be asked for your consent to the biopsy and the risks explained to you before you give that consent.
It is advisable to eat only a light meal before the procedure.
You will be asked to wear a theatre gown.
Biopsies usually take place in either the Hospital’s Day Surgery Unit or X-ray Department.
The patient is asked to lie on their front with a hard pillow under the stomach. This allows the doctor easier access to the kidneys which are found in the back of the abdomen on either side. The position of the kidneys is then checked using an ultrasound scan. . When the doctor is ready to proceed, the skin of the back will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution and green towels placed over the area and a painkilling injection will be given to numb the area. It takes a little while for this to work. When it is working, you will be asked to hold your breath and keep still. At this moment a special biopsy needle is introduced through the skin into the kidney to take the small sample. Only one kidney will be sampled. This part of the procedure is very quick but may be repeated more than once to get sufficient tissue for analysis.
Once the sample has been taken and a small dressing applied to the biopsy site you will be asked to stay lying on a bed for a period of time, usually about six hours. Your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored frequently and the dressing checked to make sure that everything is well after the biopsy. Some people see some blood in their urine after a biopsy, this is not unusual and is not a cause for concern. If you are having a biopsy as a day patient, you should be ready to go home after about six hours.
Rarely, a patient might have a bleed after a biopsy. Any medical or surgical procedure carries risks. Patients are only asked to undergo procedures because it is felt that the risks are outweighed by the benefits. All possible precautions are taken to prevent bleeding. When it does occur, patients are observed closely and treated according to their needs and will not be discharged until it is safe to do so.
Patients going home after a biopsy should rest and take it easy for 48 hours. It can feel as if you have been kicked in the back. Paracetamol can be taken to reduce any discomfort. After the first 48 hours, there should be no reason why normal activities could not be restarted.
However, if you experience dizziness, blood in your urine or severe pain, please contact your GP at once. They will contact the hospital.
It takes a couple of weeks for tests to be returned. Usually, patients are given an outpatient clinic appointment for 2-3 weeks after the biopsy to discuss the results. However, if you are an inpatient a verbal report may be available within 1 or 2 days.