Current indications for renal biopsy: a questionnaire-based survey

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Mar;35(3):448-57. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(00)70197-1.


Indications for renal biopsy are still ill defined. We recently sent a detailed questionnaire to 360 nephrologists in different areas of the world with the aim of providing information on this critical issue by evaluating the replies. The questionnaire was organized in four sections that included questions on renal biopsy indications in patients with normal renal function, renal insufficiency, and a transplanted kidney. In addition, the questions included methods applied to each renal biopsy procedure and to specimen processing. We received 166 replies; North Europe (50 replies), South Europe (47 replies), North America (31 replies), Australia and New Zealand (24 replies), and other countries (14 replies). In patients with normal renal function, primary indications for renal biopsy were microhematuria associated with proteinuria, particularly greater than 1 g/d of protein. In chronic renal insufficiency, kidney dimension was the major parameter considered before renal biopsy, whereas the presence of diabetes or serological abnormalities was not considered critical. In the course of acute renal failure (ARF) of unknown origin, 20% of the respondents would perform renal biopsy in the early stages, 26% after 1 week of nonrecovery, and 40% after 4 weeks. In a transplanted kidney, the majority of nephrologists would perform a renal biopsy in the case of graft failure after surgery, ARF after initial good function, slow progressive deterioration of renal function, and onset of nephrotic proteinuria. The last section provided comprehensive information on the technical aspects of renal biopsy. This survey represents the first attempt to provide a reliable consensus that can be used in developing guidelines on the use of kidney biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis
  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Nephrology / trends*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Proteinuria / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires