A muscle biopsy is a procedure used to diagnose diseases involving muscle tissue. Tissue and cells from a specific muscle are removed and viewed microscopically. The procedure requires only a small piece of tissue to be removed from your designated muscle.
The tissue sample is obtained by inserting a biopsy needle into your muscle. If a larger sample is required, your healthcare provider may make an incision in your skin (open biopsy) and remove a larger section of muscle.
The muscle selected for your biopsy depends on the location of symptoms, which may include pain or weakness. The muscles often selected for sampling are the bicep (upper arm muscle), deltoid (shoulder muscle), or quadriceps (thigh muscle).
A related procedure that may be used to diagnose neuromuscular problems is electromyography (EMG). EMG measures the electrical activity of muscle during rest, slight contraction, and forceful contraction.
A muscle biopsy is performed to assess your musculoskeletal system for abnormalities. Various disease processes can cause muscle weakness or pain. These conditions may be related to problems with your nervous system, connective tissue, vascular system, or musculoskeletal system.
A muscle biopsy helps to determine the source of the disease process, ensuring initiation of appropriate treatment.
Muscle biopsies may be performed to diagnose neuromuscular disorders, infections that affect your muscle, and other abnormalities in your muscle tissue. The following is a list of some conditions diagnosed by muscle biopsy:
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend a muscle biopsy.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Other risks may exist, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider prior to the procedure.
A muscle biopsy may be performed on an outpatient basis, or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary, depending on your condition and your provider’s practices. Generally, a muscle biopsy follows this process:
Once you are home, it is important to keep the biopsy area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and generally will fall off within a few days.
The biopsy site may be tender or sore for 2 to 3 days after your muscle biopsy. Take a pain reliever for soreness, as your healthcare provider recommends. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase your chance for bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
Notify your healthcare provider to report any of the following:
You may resume your usual diet and activities, unless your healthcare provider advises you otherwise. Your healthcare provider may restrict your activity for 24 hours following the procedure and ask that you avoid excessive use of the biopsied muscle.
Your provider may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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