In renal biopsy, a small sample of kidney tissue is removed with a needle. This test is typically conducted in order to evaluate a transplanted kidney. It is also used to account for an unexplained decrease in kidney function, persistent blood in the urine, or protein in the urine. In addition, a kidney biopsy may also be used to determine the severity of kidney disease or to find out if a particular treatment for a kidney disease is effective. Patients suffering from nephrotic syndrome (a disorder in which kidneys leak large amounts of urine), acute nephritic syndrome (a disorder characterized by large pores permitting passage of protein and red blood cells into the urine) and renal failure (a condition in which the kidneys fail to filter toxins and other waste products from the blood) are also recommended to undergo a renal biopsy.
Healthy and functioning kidneys clean the blood by filtering and removing excess fluid, minerals and wastes. In addition, kidneys produce hormones that keep the bones strong and blood healthy. However, if the kidneys are damaged, individuals may experience a buildup of harmful wastes in the body. Other symptoms such as an increased blood pressure, fluid retention, and lack of red blood cells are all signs of kidney failure. In many cases, a renal biopsy can provide a chance for doctors and medical professionals to determine the extent of the failure and to recommend a course of action or treatment.
There are three types of renal biopsies: ultrasound-guided kidney biopsy, CT-guided kidney biopsy, and surgical biopsy. The most common kidney biopsy uses ultrasound to guide the doctor to the proper area of the kidney.
In general, renal biopsy is a safe and effective procedure. However, there are possible risks. Blood in the urine is the most common complication after a biopsy is performed. This type of bleeding typically stops within a few days. Several patients experience temporary pain lasting a few hours at the biopsy site immediately after the biopsy is completed. Other patients have experienced an arteriovenous fistula which occurs when the biopsy needle accidentally damages the walls of a nearby artery and vein and creates an abnormal connection. This type of fistula usually causes no symptoms and closes on its own. In rare cases, a collection of blood around the kidney becomes infected, but can be easily treated with proper antibiotics and surgical drainage.
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