“Biopsy” means taking a small sample of tissue from an organ. It will be looked at under a microscope. A biopsy is often done when you have abnormal blood test results or have been treated for rejection. You may also have biopsies at scheduled times after your transplant or as part of a research study you agreed to be in.

What will the biopsy tell us?

  • The cause of your organ problem.

  • If there is rejection.

  • The best care plan for you and your new organ.

How is a transplant biopsy done?

  1. An ultrasound machine locates the exact place to insert the needle.

  2. The area of skin will be numbed to reduce pain.

  3. A special needle is inserted through the skin and into the organ to obtain a small piece of tissue from the new organ. You may feel pressure when the needle is inserted.

  4. A small piece (or two) of tissue is taken and looked at under a microscope.

The procedure takes 15-60 minutes. But, you will spend most of the day in the Transplant Clinic. This is to prepare for and recover from the procedure.

How to Get Ready for the Biopsy


  • If you take blood pressure pills in the morning, take them as normal.

  • Please bring all your medicines with you. You can take them after you have blood tests drawn.

  • You may take Tylenol® if you need to.

  • If you are on a blood thinner or Aspirin, talk with your transplant coordinator before the biopsy. You may need to stop these medicines up to a week before the biopsy. You should never stop blood thinning pills without talking with your doctor first.

  • If you are taking insulin, ask your provider managing your diabetes and insulin about your insulin dose for the morning of the biopsy.


Discuss with your Transplant Coordinator when to stop eating and drinking.


  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.

  • You may want to bring a book to read or some other quiet activity to do.

  • If you want to receive medicine to help you relax, you must have a driver with you.

Biopsy Day

  • You will have blood tests drawn first. You will be given a time for lab draw. This will include a test to make sure that your is blood clotting like normal.

  • We will place an IV in your arm or hand.

  • Your labs will be reviewed by the Transplant team before your biopsy.

  • We will tell you about the purpose and risks of the biopsy. We will ask you to sign a consent form.

  • You may be able to receive medicine to help you relax. If you receive this medicine, you need someone to drive you home.

  • The biopsy will be done in the Transplant Clinic or Radiology.

  • Plan to be in clinic all day.

After the Biopsy

  • Your recovery includes at least 4 hours of bed rest. Nurses will watch closely for any problems.

  • The site will be covered by an adhesive strip. A sandbag may cover the biopsy site for at least the first hour.

  • You will have nothing to eat or drink for 1 hour. Then, you will able to purchase food.

  • We will check your blood pressure and pulse often during your recovery time.

  • After three hours, we will take a blood sample to check for signs of bleeding.

  • Early results may be ready before you leave. These will not be final results. We will discuss a plan for your care with you. This may involve staying in the hospital. You may be asked to stay in Madison overnight to wait for the biopsy results.

  • Your transplant coordinator will call to discuss your final biopsy results and plan of care within 7-10 days.

After You Go Home

  • For the rest of the day, plan quiet activities.

  • If you receive any medicine to help you relax, you should not drive.

  • Important decisions should wait until the next day.

  • If you do not receive medicine to help you relax, you can drive yourself home.

  • Do not drink alcohol.

  • You may remove the bandage the next morning and take a shower.

    • You may notice a small amount of bruising or tenderness near the site for a few days.

    • You may have some local pain that you can treat with Tylenol®.

    • No vigorous exercise or lifting (greater than 10 lbs.) for 3 days.

Please go to your local emergency room if you are having any of these symptoms. The ER should contact the UW Transplant Center at (608) 263-6400.

  • Sharp abdominal pain or worsening pain at the biopsy site

  • Blood in the urine or stool

  • Unable to urinate

  • Dizziness

  • Fever

Who to Call

Transplant Clinic, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (608) 262-5420.

Nights and weekends, the clinic number is answered by the paging operator. Ask for the Organ Allocation Specialist on call. Tell them you had a transplant biopsy and what problems you are having.