A kidney biopsy is done after other tests for kidney disease (such as blood and urine tests, ultrasound, and a CT scan) have not been able to tell what kind of kidney problem is present. A kidney biopsy has more risk for problems than these other tests and a chance of false-negative results. More than one biopsy may be needed.
Open kidney biopsy and ureteroscopy are two other methods that may be used to take kidney tissue samples. You will stay overnight in the hospital for these biopsies.
An open kidney biopsy is a surgery done in an operating room while you are asleep (general anesthesia). A cut (incision) is made through the back or the side and a small piece of kidney tissue is taken out. Open biopsy is often done when the doctor needs to remove a larger piece of tissue (such as a tumor).
Ureteroscopy with biopsy is often done if there is a mass in the renal pelvis or ureter. Ureteroscopy is a surgery done in an operating room under spinal or general anesthesia. A long thin flexible tube (ureteroscope) is used to look inside the ureter and lower part of the kidney (renal pelvis). Once the mass is found, a biopsy is done through the ureteroscope.