Survey of kidney biopsy clinical practice and training in the United States

Nephrology Education Research and Development Consortium (NERDC)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives Practicing clinical nephrologists are performing fewer diagnostic kidney biopsies. Requiring biopsy procedural competence for graduating nephrology fellows is controversial. Design, Setting, Participants, & Measurements An anonymous, on-line survey of all Walter Reed training program graduates (n=82; 1985–2017) and all United States nephrology program directors (n=149; August to October of 2017), regarding kidney biopsy practice and training, was undertaken. Results Walter Reed graduates’ response and completion rates were 71% and 98%, respectively. The majority felt adequately trained in native kidney biopsy (83%), transplant biopsy (82%), and tissue interpretation (78%), with no difference for ≤10 versus >10 practice years. Thirty-five percent continued to perform biopsies (13% did ≥10 native biopsies/year); 93% referred at least some biopsies. The most common barriers to performing biopsy were logistics (81%) and time (74%). Program director response and completion rates were 60% and 77%. Seventy-two percent cited ≥1 barrier to fellow competence. The most common barriers were logistics (45%), time (45%), and likelihood that biopsy would not be performed postgraduation (41%). Fifty-one percent indicated that fellows should not be required to demonstrate minimal procedural competence in biopsy, although 97% agreed that fellows should demonstrate competence in knowing/managing indications, contraindications, and complications. Program directors citing ≥1 barrier or whose fellows did <50 native biopsies/year in total were more likely to think that procedural competence should not be required versus those citing no barriers (P=0.02), or whose fellows performed ≥50 biopsies (P<0.01). Conclusions Almost two-thirds of graduate respondents from a single military training program no longer perform biopsy, and 51% of responding nephrology program directors indicated that biopsy procedural competence should not be required. These findings should inform discussion of kidney biopsy curriculum requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-725
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


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