A nerve biopsy is the removal of a small piece of a nerve for examination.
Biopsy - nerve
A nerve biopsy is most often done on a nerve in the ankle, forearm, or along a rib.
The health care provider applies medicine to numb the area before the procedure. The doctor makes a small surgical cut and removes a piece of the nerve. The cut is then closed and a bandage is put on it. The nerve sample is sent to a lab, where it is examined under a microscope.
Follow your provider's instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.
When the numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is injected, you will feel a prick and a mild sting. The biopsy site may be sore for a few days after the test.
Nerve biopsy may be done to help diagnose:
Nerve biopsy is usually done to look for inflammation that could be damaging the nerve. Conditions for which the test may be done include any of the following:
A normal result means the nerve appears normal.
Abnormal results may be due to:
Risks of the procedure may include:
Nerve biopsy is invasive and is useful only in certain situations. Talk to your provider about your options.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Nerve biopsy - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:814-815.
Midha R, Elmadhoun TMI. Peripheral nerve examination, evaluation, and biopsy. In: Winn HR, ed. Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 245.
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.