The importance of sample size in the interpretation of the renal biopsy

Am J Nephrol. 1988;8(2):85-9. doi: 10.1159/000167563.


The number of abnormal glomeruli present in a renal biopsy can be viewed as a binomial distribution. Recognition of this fact permits a quantitative assessment of the effect of biopsy sample size in renal biopsy interpretation. If the percent of glomerular involvement in a biopsy is used to determine the severity of a focal glomerular lesion, a small biopsy sample size will lead to considerable misclassification of disease severity. In addition, a small biopsy sample size will make the exclusion of focal disease difficult.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology*
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology