A kidney biopsy is usually done in a hospital. An overnight stay may be needed to watch for any problems that may occur after the procedure is completed. You may be awake with only light sedation or asleep under general anesthesia. You will be lying face down with a pillow under your rib cage. If the biopsy is done on a transplanted kidney, you will be lying on your back.
Percutaneous (needle) biopsy: the kidney is found using a sonogram, x-ray images, or both. Sometimes, an injection of dye into your veins may be needed to help the doctor find your kidney and important blood vessels. Once the biopsy site is found, your skin is marked and cleaned where the biopsy needle will be inserted.
You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area where the biopsy needle enters. You will be asked to take a deep breath and hold it as the doctor puts in the needle. When the needle pushes through the skin to the kidney, you may feel a "pop" or pressure. It is important to stay still and to hold your breath (about 45 seconds or less).
Sometimes two needles are needed to get enough of the kidney sample for diagnosis. When enough of the sample is taken, the needle(s) are taken out and a bandage is placed over the needle puncture site. The entire procedure, from start to finish, usually lasts about one hour.
Open kidney biopsy: some patients should not have a percutaneous biopsy because they may have a history of bleeding problems. For these patients, an open operation may be done where the surgeon can actually see the kidney to get a good sample to test.