Muscle Biopsies

This is specialised work and should only be undertaken by laboratories and pathologists with experience of enzyme histochemistry and the evaluation of the results. Small muscle biopsies (other than for tumours) are taken from the belly of viable muscles in order to diagnose conditions causing muscle weakness. Biopsies should not be taken from extremely wasted muscles as only end-stage pathology rather than ongoing pathological changes will be demonstrated. Conditions causing muscle weakness fall into three main categories:

1. Congenital disorders of muscle, i.e., biochemical abnormalities resulting in a dystrophy or myopathy.

2. Acquired disorders of muscle secondary to pathology of the nervous system.

3. Acquired disorders due to inflammation of muscle or the microvasculature.

As with all biopsies, a full history of the condition and clinical work-up is of importance to the pathologist.

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