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Musculoskeletal Services

Muscle Biopsy

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This information is offered as a guide to you and your family providing information on this test. It will be fully explained by your doctor or nurse who will be happy to answer any questions.

What is a muscle biopsy?

A muscle biopsy is a test used to help diagnose diseases involving the muscle. A small sample of muscle is removed and viewed under the microscope. The muscle is usually taken from the mid thigh.

Who benefits?

Muscle biopsies are done to check for any problems within the musculo-skeletal system. Various diseases can cause muscle weakness or pain. These conditions may be related to problems with the nervous system, connective tissue, vascular system or musculoskeletal system.

A muscle biopsy helps to diagnose a patient with muscle weakness, tenderness or an abnormal blood test so that treatment can be started.

What are the risks and side effects?

As with any procedure complications can occur. Possible complications are:

  • bruising and discomfort at biopsy site
  • prolonged bleeding from biopsy site
  • infection of biopsy site
  • pain at the biopsy site

What to expect

  • You will be asked for your consent before the procedure.
  • Before the procedure the doctor will clean the skin with antiseptic and give you an injection of local anaesthetic into the area of the leg being biopsied. This is to numb the area so you feel no pain.
  • You will feel some tugging and prodding. If you do feel pain then you should tell the doctor.
  • A small incision of up to 2.5cms will be made so that the biopsy can be taken. A couple of stitches will be inserted after the biopsy.
  • Following the procedure you will be asked to rest for up to one hour. The nurse will check to make sure there is no bleeding.


It is important to inform medical staff if you are taking any blood thinning drugs such as wafarin before the muscle biopsy.

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After leaving the department you can take paracetamol or cocodamol for the next couple of days as required.

The nurse will arrange for you to attend the G.P practice to have the stitches removed at seven days.

A follow up appointment will be arranged for you to return to see the consultant to discuss the results.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your biopsy please contact:
Dr Bridget Griffiths’ Secretary (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm): (0191) 2137978
Michelle Rutherford (Staff Nurse Ward 19 Day Unit; Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm): (0191) 2336161 Ext 27752

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