Percutaneous renal biopsy of the solitary kidney: a contraindication?

J Urol. 1992 May;147(5):1235-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(17)37526-2.


We recently were presented with a patient from the nephrology service, with the request to perform open renal biopsy because of a solitary functioning kidney. We performed the open biopsy and the patient subsequently had a wound infection, leading us to question the recommendation in the literature stating that a solitary kidney is an absolute contraindication for percutaneous renal biopsy. In a review of the literature from 1951 to 1990, a total of 19,459 percutaneous renal biopsies has been reported with an overall complication rate of 2.1 to 10.8%, the majority (90%) of which did not require definitive treatment. Only 13 nephrectomies (0.06%) were required secondary to complications. The overall mortality rate was 0.08%. We reviewed 157 percutaneous renal biopsies done at this institution from 1985 to 1990 with a minor complication rate of only 5% and no major complications or loss of kidney function. The mortality rate was 0. Based on our study and a review of the literature, both showing an extremely small percentage of permanent loss of kidney function or mortality, we propose that a solitary kidney no longer be recommended as an absolute contraindication to percutaneous renal biopsy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy* / methods
  • Contraindications
  • Humans
  • Kidney / abnormalities*
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Skin