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Muscle and Nerve Laboratory

muscle and nerve biopsy imageThe Muscle and Nerve Laboratory at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth helps to improve diagnosis by identifying abnormalities at a microscopic and pathologic level. The Laboratory is dedicated to providing accurate and timely results to physicians ordering biopsies for diagnostic testing.

The Muscle and Nerve Laboratory accepts surgical specimens obtained elsewhere for processing and interpretation. Specimens are accepted Monday through Thursday (8 am-4 pm) and skin biopsy kits and shipping services are provided at no charge.

Our Scope of Expertise

The experienced staff of affiliated neuromuscular pathologists and histological technicians provides muscle, nerve and skin biopsies to patients who need further assessment, when clinical neuromuscular findings are limited. Following the biopsy, the team processes the specimen and interprets the results in the state-of-the-art laboratory. The findings are sent directly to the patient’s physician for review . The commitment of the pathologists and research team, along with the skill of the laboratory technicians, provides outstanding  service and  accurate results to both referring physicians and patients .

Muscle Biopsy

Muscle biopsies are performed to evaluate the skeletal muscles for diagnosis and management of various neuromuscular disorders. Muscle disease may be nassociated with elevated CPK levels, muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and muscle pain with exercise.

The biceps or quadriceps are often selected for sampling, but other muscles may be biopsied depending on symptoms. Local anesthesia is typically used for open muscle biopsies.

Common conditions diagnosed with muscle biopsies include:

  • Muscular dystrophies (MD)
  • Metabolic and toxic myopathies
  • Mitochondrial myopathies
  • Inflammatory myopathies (including polymyositis, dermatomyositis, and inclusion body myositis)
  • Neurogenic atrophy (including motor neuron disorder and nerve disorder)

Nerve Biopsy

Nerve biopsies are performed during laboratory work-up for several neuropathic conditions, including:

  • Inflammatory and demyelinating neuropathies
  • Vasculitic neuropathies
  • Amyloid neuropathies
  • Toxic neuropathies

The preferred technique for nerve biopsies is open biopsy under local anesthesia  and most biopsies are taken at the sural nerve. Nerve biopsies allow for more accurate diagnoses, especially for patients with asymmetric neuropathic features. Preliminary reports for nerve biopsies are prepared within three working days of specimen submission.

Skin Biopsy

Skin biopsies are performed for the evaluation of small fiber sensory neuropathies and dysautonomic symptoms, which may lead to the detection of underlying disorders that cause injury to the small sensory and autonomic nerve fibers. These studies are particularly helpful in patients with sensory neuropathic symptoms and neuropathic pain but normal nerve conduction studies to establish the diagnosis of a neuropathic process.

Punch biopsies are typically performed for this purpose. Autonomic innervation of sweat glands and hair follicles can also be assessed with this technique. For physicians wishing to perform the punch biopsy in their clinics, the laboratory team can provide training in the procedure as well as a skin biopsy kits so the providers can perform the procedure in their facilities and ship the specimens to Muscle and Nerve Laboratory for testing. A written report is provided within 2 weeks.

Specimen Protocol

Please notify the laboratory two days in advance that a specimen will be arriving. Please contact our lab manager at (713) 500-5084.

The following information will be needed:

  • Patient’s demographics
  • Brief clinical history

Contact Us

To contact us for more information, please call (713) 500-5084, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.


6431 Fannin St., MSE R401A
Houston, TX 7730

Specimen Evaluation or laboratory technical assistance please call (713) 500-5084.

To schedule an appointment for Biopsy or Consultation: