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Alternative namesBiopsy - nerve
DefinitionA nerve biopsy is the removal of a small piece of a nerve for examination.
How the test is performedThe sural nerve (in the ankle), or the superficial radial nerve (wrist) are the sites most often used for biopsy. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area. A small incision is made, and a portion of the nerve is removed. The sample is then examined using either a regular (light) microscopic or an electron microscope. Individual nerve fibers may also be examined.
How to prepare for the testThere is no special preparation.
Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experience, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feelBecause a local anesthetic is used, discomfort during the procedure is usually minimal. The anesthetic may burn or sting when first injected. After the procedure, the area may feel tender or sore for a few days.
Why the test is performedNerve biopsy may be performed to help distinguish between demyelination (destruction of parts of the myelin sheath covering the nerve) and axon degeneration (destruction of the axon portion of the nerve cell), to identify inflammatory nerve conditions (neuropathies), or to confirm specific diagnoses.
Normal ValuesThere is normal nerve anatomy, with no abnormal growths or inclusions.
What abnormal results meanConditions or disorders that may be revealed include:
What the risks are
Special considerationsNerve biopsy is invasive and is useful only in certain circumstances. These include diagnosis of asymmetric and multifocal nerve disorders, conditions in which a nerve is palpably enlarged (the enlargement can be felt with the fingers), and suspected inherited pediatric nerve disorders.
Update Date: 5/8/2003Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT