A kidney biopsy is done to determine the etiology of the glomerulonephritis (GN) and the severity of the lesion, to identify whether other lesions, related to or not related to the GN, are present on the kidney biopsy and finally to ascertain the extent of chronicity of the GN. The etiology of GN is based on the classification of GN into five groups: immune complex-mediated GN, antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated GN, anti-glomerular basement membrane (GBM) GN, monoclonal immunoglobulin-mediated GN and C3 glomerulopathy. Immune complex GN includes multiple specific diseases such as lupus nephritis, IgA nephropathy, infection-related GN and fibrillary GN. ANCA GN, anti-GBM GN and C3 glomerulopathy are specific diseases in themselves, while monoclonal Ig GN includes proliferative GN with monoclonal Ig deposits and monoclonal Ig deposition disease. Thus identification of the class of GN and within it the specific disease determines the etiology of GN. Ancillary studies may be required to confirm the etiology of GN. The severity of the GN is revealed by the pattern of injury, such as crescentic, necrotizing, diffuse proliferative, exudative, membranoproliferative, mesangial proliferative or a sclerosing GN. Secondary diagnosis either related or unrelated to the GN, such as diabetic glomerulosclerosis, acute tubular necrosis or thrombotic microangiopathy, may also be present. The secondary diagnosis may sometimes be the reason for the kidney biopsy. The chronicity of GN is determined by evaluating the extent of glomerulosclerosis, tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis and vascular sclerosis present on the biopsy. This review summarizes the approach to standardizing a kidney biopsy report that includes these components in a logical and sequential manner.
- Kidney biopsy
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