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Information about a Kidney Biopsy

If you have had an ultrasound or CT scan that shows a mass on one of your kidneys, you may need a biopsy of this to find out exactly what the mass is. Small amounts of tissue are taken from the mass and sent to a pathologist who will examine it under a microscope and do special tests. The biopsy is performed by a radiologist using local anaesthetic.


The radiology provider will send you information on how to prepare for the biopsy. It is very important that you tell them if you are on anticoagulant (blood-thinning) drugs, and these must be stopped a number of days before the biopsy.

What is involved in a renal biopsy?

Biopsies are done under imaging with ultrasound or CT to help guide the biopsy to the abnormal tissue. The radiologist will make a decision at the time of the biopsy about the use of ultrasound or CT to guide the biopsy. This depends on the location of the mass, its size and your body shape.

You be asked to lie on a couch, usually on your front. Local anaesthetic will be injected into the skin and muscle over the kidney, which will sting a little. Once the area in numb, a biopsy needle will be passed into the kidney mass, and a few biopsies will be taken. You may feel a little discomfort as the biopsies are taken. Afterwards you will be observed for up to 4 hours and then you can go home. It is normal that feel a little ache or soreness in your side for a day or two.

Are there any risks of a renal biopsy?

  • It is normal to have a small amount of bruising in the area where the biopsy was taken. This is due to a small amount of bleeding from the kidney.
  • Very rarely, this bleeding can be more serious, which is why your will be observed for a couple of hours afterwards. On very rare occasions a blood transfusion or a further interventional procedure may be required the stop this bleeding.
  • Again, very rarely there can be damage to a small artery in the kidney. This can result in a pseudoaneurysm or arterio-venous fistula that bleeds later on and requires an interventional procedure (angioembolisation) to stop the bleeding.
  • Sometimes, despite the best efforts of the expert radiologist, the biopsy is not diagnostic, which means no clear answer is given by the biopsy.
  • If a CT scan is used to be guide the biopsy, you will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation.

If you have any questions, please contact your chosen Radiology provider. The administration staff at Nick Brook Urology do NOT have information about your appointment times for radiology, and are not able to give medical advice or answer questions about radiological investigations. The staff are not able to give you your results – these need to be given to you either by the radiologist or by Nick Brook. Use the links below for contact details for the radiology companies in South Australia:

Radiology SA http://www.radiologysa.com.au

Benson Radiology http://bensonradiology.com.au

Dr Jones & Partners http://www.drjones.com.au


This information is intended as an educational guide only, and is here to help you as an additional source of information, along with a consultation from your urologist. The information does not apply to all patients.

Not all potential complications are listed, and you must talk to your urologist about the complications specific to your situation.


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  • Nick Brook Urology
    Kimberley House
    89 Strangways Tce,
    North Adelaide,
    Adelaide SA 5006
  • 08 8463 2500
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