The role of biopsy in incidental renal tumours

Mohammed S. Al-Marhoon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Historically, the biopsy of renal masses was not advocated, and to date there remains some controversy on the role of biopsy for renal masses in making treatment decisions. With the widespread use of imaging methods, the incidental diagnosis of renal masses has increased, necessitating renal biopsies to better plan the management of these tumours. Here I review previous reports to define the role of biopsy in incidental renal tumours. Methods: Data were obtained from English-language studies listed in PubMed on the use of renal biopsy for evaluating incidental solid small renal tumours. Results: The biopsy of small renal tumours is increasingly accepted due to: the increase in the incidence of small renal tumours; the finding that a significant number of these tumours are benign; the availability of new management options, such as ablative therapy and surveillance strategies; that imaging alone is unable to predict the biological behaviour of these tumours; and advances in the pathological evaluation of the biopsies. The biopsy procedure has an acceptable complication rate but is not free of limitations. The current recommendations for the use of renal biopsy in small renal tumours are: to help in differentiating benign from malignant renal tumours; before or during ablative therapies and during the follow-up after ablative therapies, for defining treatment success or failure; and to exclude nonrenal cell primary tumours (metastasis and lymphoma) or benign conditions (abscess), which may not require surgery. Conclusions: The biopsy of small renal tumours is a safe and accurate procedure, and can help in the planning of definitive patient management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-15
Number of pages5
JournalArab Journal of Urology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Renal cell cancer
  • Renal tumour biopsy
  • Small renal tumours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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