Muscle Biopsy

What is Muscle Biopsy

Muscle biopsy is a procedure in which a tissue sample is removed from a muscle. The tissue is examined under a microscope to help detect health problems that may involve the muscles.

Chemical tests can also be run on the sample if they are needed. A muscle biopsy can be used to diagnose various problems, including:

  • Muscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy.
  • Infections.
  • Diseases that affect connective tissue or blood vessels.
  • Other defects in the muscle.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Previous problems you or members of your family have had with the use of anesthetics.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Bruising.
  • Problems healing the wound.
  • Injury to the muscle tissue or other tissue near the biopsy site.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Ask your health care provider about:
    • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
    • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines before your procedure if your health care provider instructs you not to.
  • Plan to have someone take you home after the procedure.
  • Ask your health care provider how your surgical site will be marked or identified.
  • You may be given antibiotic medicine to help prevent infection.

What happens during the procedure?

  • To reduce your risk of infection:
  • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
    • Your skin will be washed with soap.
  • You may be given a medicine to help you relax (sedative).
  • You will be given a medicine to numb the area (local anesthetic).
  • One of the following methods will be used to remove the tissue sample:
    • Needle biopsy: A biopsy needle will be inserted into the muscle. The needle will be used to collect the tissue sample. A bandage (dressing) may then be put over the biopsy site.
    • Open biopsy: A small cut (incision) will be made in the skin and muscle. The tissue sample will then be removed using surgical tools. The incision will be closed with skin glue, skin adhesive strips, or stitches if needed.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • If you were given a sedative, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored often until the medicine has worn off.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you received a sedative.
  • You may have soreness and tenderness at the site of the biopsy. This will go away after a few days.

Muscle Biopsy, Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information about caring for yourself after your procedure. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your health care provider if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After your procedure, it is common to have soreness and tenderness at the site of the biopsy. This may last for a few days.

Follow these instructions at home:

Biopsy Site Care

  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about how to take care of your biopsy site. Make sure you:
    • Change any bandages (dressings) as told by your health care provider.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before you change your bandage (dressing). If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
    • Leave any stitches (sutures), skin glue, or adhesive strips in place. These skin closures may need to stay in place for 2 weeks or longer. If adhesive strip edges start to loosen and curl up, you may trim the loose edges. Do not remove adhesive strips completely unless your health care provider tells you to do that.
  • Check your biopsy site every day for signs of infection. Check for:
    • More redness, swelling, or pain.
    • More fluid or blood.
    • Warmth.
    • Pus or a bad smell.


  • Limit activities or movements as told by your health care provider.
  • Do not drive for 24 hours if you received a medicine to help you relax (sedative).

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Do not take baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your health care provider approves. Ask your health care provider if you can take showers.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have more redness, swelling, or pain around your biopsy site.
  • You have more fluid or blood coming from your biopsy site.
  • Your biopsy site feels warm to the touch.
  • You have pus or a bad smell coming from your biopsy site.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are light-headed or you feel faint.

Get help right away if:

  • You develop a rash.
  • You have difficulty breathing.
  • You have numbness or tingling going down the arm or leg of your biopsy site.

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