After the biopsy

There might be some bleeding straight after the procedure, but this will stop when pressure is applied to the site. There is a certain risk for an infection around the surgical site. This risk is very small.  There may be some pain afterwards, requiring paracetamol or other pain medication.

We usually advise bed rest for 2 hours immediately after the procedure. It's wise to have a friend or relative to drive you home after the procedure to minimise walking. We advise that you should not drive yourself home after the procedure.

At home after the procedure

The biopsy site may feel uncomfortable for a day or two afterwards. Simple analgesia may be required.

After an needle biopsy, the small wound is closed with steristrips. This should be kept clean and dry for 48 hours, but after that the dressing can be removed. 

An open biopsy wound may be closed with stitches. The surgeon will advise when these can be removed and who will do this.

On the day of the biopsy, walking is possible but should be minimised.

Activity should gradually be resumed following the procedure. It may be necessary to take one or two days off work after the procedure, depending on activity required.

Vigorous activity or sport should be avoided for the first few days and resumed cautiously as discomfort subsides.

When to call the ward or your family doctor (GP)  

  • If there is marked swelling and discomfort of the whole muscle (some bruising is common and can be ignored)  
  • If the biopsy site is still painful more than three days after the biopsy was taken and/or pain relief does not work
  • If the biopsy site is red or ‘angry’ looking
  • If there is persistent oozing from the biopsy site
  • If you develop a high temperature

What happens to the sample

The sample is transported to the laboratory and most of it is frozen. Very thin slices are cut and stained with various dyes and examined under a microscope. Some of the sample is also frozen for biochemical studies. A small portion is placed in a preservative so that it can be examined under an electron microscope, if required. With the agreement of the patient, any unused portion of the sample is stored so that developments in the field can be applied, even if the faulty gene is identified.

Histology

This involves looking at the overall appearance and structure of the muscle cells. The muscle is stained using various chemicals in order to see different structures. This analysis gives information about the muscle structure and the appearance of characteristics specific to certain conditions.

Histochemistry

This technique also uses chemical stains, but looks at the action of chemicals within the muscle fibres. This includes enzymes, and so is important for the diagnosis of metabolic disorders. In addition histochemistry reveals the characteristics for the two main types of muscle fibres we all have. Changes in the normal pattern are used to identify a particular condition.

Immunohistochemistry

This procedure uses antibodies which bind to a specific protein and can show the presence or absence of important proteins within the muscle. When antibodies are tagged with a marker they can be seen under the microscope and can show if a protein is in the wrong place, or is absent. This is important for several muscular dystrophies such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which is caused by the absence of the protein, dystrophin. Antibodies are also used to show changes in several proteins simultaneously using a biochemical technique that separates each protein out on a special type of jelly.