Kidney disease is a condition in which the normal functioning of the kidneys is impaired. As a result, the kidneys are no longer able to filter waste products from the blood as effectively as they should. This condition can be either acute or chronic, and early symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin itching, swelling of the feet and ankles, and high blood pressure. As the condition progresses, patients may notice shortness of breath or chest pain, and individuals with end-stage symptoms normally require dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival. Patients with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease. To diagnose this condition, doctors begin with blood and urine tests, and patients may also need to have an ultrasound exam or a kidney biopsy.
An individual who has symptoms indicative of kidney disease may need to undergo a kidney biopsy to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. A kidney biopsy is a procedure where a small piece of tissue is removed from a kidney so a pathologist can examine it underneath a microscope. A kidney biopsy is performed by a nephrologist, urologist, transplant surgeon, or interventional radiologist. A kidney biopsy can reveal scarring, immunoglobulin deposits, inflammation, and infection. A kidney biopsy can provide information about how quickly a patient's kidney disease is progressing and how well treatment is working. A kidney biopsy can be performed percutaneously or as an open biopsy. The most common type of kidney biopsy used to diagnose and evaluate kidney disease is a percutaneous biopsy. Open kidney biopsies are performed in special circumstances based on a patient's medical history and physical condition.