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HF 6753

Outpatient Transplant Kidney Biopsy

“Biopsy” means taking a small sample of tissue from an organ. It will be looked at carefully under a microscope. A kidney biopsy is often done when your creatinine is elevated. Other reasons include scheduled intervals after your transplant. 

What will the biopsy tell us?

  • The cause of your kidney problem,

  • If there is rejection,

  • The best care plan for you and your kidney transplant.

How is a transplant kidney biopsy done?

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

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

  • A needle is inserted into the kidney to obtain the kidney tissue. 

  • A small piece of tissue is taken and looked at under a microscope.


The procedure, including the ultrasound, takes less than half an hour. But, you will spend most of the day in the Transplant Clinic. This is to prepare for and recover after the procedure.

How to Prepare for the Biopsy


  • Do not take ibuprofen. Do not take medicine with ibuprofen in it the day of the biopsy. 

  • You may take Tylenol® if you need to. You may be asked to stop taking aspirin up to 7 days before the biopsy.

  • If you are on a blood thinner like warfarin (Coumadin®) or clopidogrel (Plavix®) talk with your transplant coordinator before the biopsy. You may need to stop these medicines before the biopsy. 

  • If you have diabetes, ask about your insulin dose for the morning of the biopsy. 

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

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


  • Do not eat solid foods after 4:30 a.m. the morning of the biopsy. 

  • You may have clear liquids until 6:30 a.m. the morning of the biopsy. 


  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes. 

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

  • Plan to have a driver with you.

Biopsy Day

  • Please report to the lab at 7:30 a.m. (unless you have been told to arrive at a different time). Blood tests will be drawn. 

  • After your blood tests, report directly to the Transplant Clinic. 

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

  • Staff will review your labs and decide if you can and should have the biopsy.

  • An IV will be placed in your arm or hand.

  • The biopsy will be done in the Transplant Clinic between 10:30 a.m. and noon. 

  • Plan to be in clinic all day. You should be able to leave around 4:30 p.m. 

After the Biopsy

  • Your recovery includes at least 4 hours of bed rest. 

  • The site will be covered by a bandage A sandbag will cover the biopsy site for the first hour.

  • You will have nothing to eat or drink for 1 hour. Then, you will be given a bag lunch.

  • Your blood pressure and pulse will be checked every 15 minutes the first hour. Then every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours, followed by hourly until you go home.

  • After three hours, a blood sample will be taken.  

  • Initial biopsy results may be ready before you leave. The final results take longer.

  • You may have to stay in the hospital. 

  • Your transplant coordinator will call to discuss your final biopsy results and plan of care. This may take 7-14 days.

After You Go Home

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

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

  • Important personal or business decisions should wait until the next day.

  • If you do not receive medicine to help you relax, you may be able to 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. 

    • You may expect some local pain for which you can take 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 Program at 1-800-323-8942.

  • Sharp abdominal pain or worsening pain at the biopsy site,

  • Blood in the urine, 

  • Dizziness,

  • Fever.

Phone Numbers

Transplant Clinic, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (608) 262-5420

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

If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942. Ask for the transplant coordinator on call.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.