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Frequently Asked Questions

For Physicians

What are the indications for a renal biopsy?

Although patients with all varieties of renal parenchymal disease have undergone renal biopsy, the biopsy is of greatest value in patients with large amounts of proteinuria, patients with systemic disease that involve the kidneys, certain patients with acute renal failure, and patients with an active urinary sediment. Important clinical information such as serum creatinine, serologic studies, and the degree of proteinuria are useful in assisting the interpretation of the renal biopsy.

Can the biopsy assess the risk of progression and the potential for response to therapy?

The renal biopsy provides significant information relative to the risk of progression by examining the degree of tubulointerstitial scarring. The potential to respond to therapy is generally based on the presence or absence of acute inflammatory changes in the glomerulus and in the tubulointerstitial compartment.

What clinical information will assist in the evaluation of the renal biopsy?

Important clinical information such as serum creatinine, serological studies for hepatitis and lupus, and the degree of proteinuria are generally useful in assisting in the interpretation of the renal biopsy.

Does a needle biopsy provide an adequate sampling?

It is generally felt that needle biopsy of the kidney gives a sufficient sampling for most processes that involve the glomerular or tubulointerstitial compartments.

What types of infectious diseases are identified by electron microscopy?

Electron microscopy has proven useful in the diagnosis of a wide range of viral diseases and in the diagnosis of unusual infectious agents such as spirochetes, microsporidia, and protozoa mechanisms.

For Patients

Why do I need a renal biopsy?

While your doctor may be able to tell you that you have a disease, which affects your kidneys, laboratory tests and physical examination are generally insufficient to give the accurate diagnosis your doctor needs to plan your therapy and management. The exact kidney disease is often only correctly identified through a tissue diagnosis, which the biopsy provides.

What are the potential complications of a needle biopsy?

The technique of a renal biopsy has been improved so that complications are very uncommon. It is relatively rare to have a serious complication, although it is not uncommon to have blood in the urine following a biopsy.