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During a diagnostic kidney biopsy, a small piece of the kidney — about one-half inch in length and the diameter of a pencil lead — is obtained using a specially designed needle guided by ultrasound. It takes about 25 minutes to set up for the biopsy and less than five minutes to do the procedure.

Kidney biopsy: What you need to know

  • The setup involves visually locating the kidney under ultrasound, cleaning the skin with antiseptic and numbing the skin with a local anesthetic.
  • A kidney biopsy is then obtained with a biopsy needle.
  • A bandage is placed on the biopsy site, which is typically a small cut less than one-quarter inch in size.
  • To minimize bleeding, the patient is asked to lie flat in the bed for six hours and remain on strict bed rest overnight. Normal walking can be resumed in the morning, but no heavy lifting or exertion is permitted for at least five days.
  • A kidney biopsy can be performed as an outpatient procedure or during a hospital admission.
  • Blood tests are necessary prior to an outpatient biopsy to confirm that blood clotting is normal. If blood clotting is abnormal, the biopsy is postponed until all clotting is normal.

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