Preparing for a Kidney Biopsy at Children's Hospital Colorado
In some cases, the only way to know what name to give certain kinds of kidney diseases, or to see if the kidney filters are damaged is to look at the kidney tissue through a microscope. A kidney specialist for kids is called a pediatric nephrologist. The pediatric nephrologist obtains a tiny piece of kidney by performing a kidney biopsy. It can also be called a renal biopsy (renal means ‘kidney’ in Latin). Most kidney diseases affect both kidneys both the same, so the biopsy only needs to be done on one kidney.
The names of some of the types of kidney diseases come from the names given to the parts of the kidney. For example, the filters are called glomeruli (Latin); kidney inflammation is nephritis (Greek); so glomerulonephritis is a condition that causes inflammation fo the kidney filters.
What to Expect During Your Kidney Biopsy
On the day of your biopsy, you may have clear liquids only until 8AM. Don’t eat or drink anything after 8AM. You will go to the outpatient laboratory around 10AM. Tests are done to check for normal blood clotting in order to know there is no increased risk of bleeding. Sometimes other tests need to be done at the same time. After you have your tests done, you will come to The Kidney Center and a member of the staff will take you to the surgery area, where a team of doctos and nurses check you in by taking your medical history and doing a physical examination. The nurse will follow your nephrologist’s orders to get you ready for the biopsy, which usually happens around 2PM in the Radiology Department . The nurse will put some numbing cream on your back in the area where the biopsy is done. A doctor will have your parent or legal guardian sign a consent form for the biopsy after making sure it is understood what a biopsy is and what risks there may be.
This kind of biopsy is not an operation, but you will get medicine to make you very sleepy and to help lessen any pain associated with the biopsy. One medicine is given bya shot in the area of the biopsy to numb that area. The other medicines are given through an IV, which is a small tube placed into the vein. It does not hurt to have medicine given through the IV. Careful checks on breathing, oxygen, blood pressure and pulse are done during the biopsy and for hours afterward. In Radiology, an ultrasound is used to locate the kidneys and find the spot to put the special needles used for biopsies. An ultrasound does not hurt. By the time you are ready to have the biopsy done, you won’t feel any pain or even remember the biopsy.
The trip to and from Radiology, including the biopsy, takes about an hour. The biopsy itself takes less than fifteen minutes. After the biopsy, eating and drinking is OK, but staying bed and following the orders of doctors and nurses are very important. The IV will stay in until it is safe to take it out. If there are no problems, you can go home that same evening. For one week after your biopsy, do not participate in contact sports such as football, horseback riding or trampoline. Normal everyday things are OK and you can return to school. If you have discomfort in your back, you can take some acetaminophen (Tylenol). The cut in your skin at the biopsy site will be about ¼ inch long and does not require any special care. If you notice any special problems, such as increasing back or abdominal pain or increasing blood in your urine, let your family doctor know. When the results of your kidney biopsy are known, your nephrologist will discuss them with you.