What is Percutaneous Needle Muscle Biopsy: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results

Definition and Overview

Percutaneous needle muscle biopsy is an outpatient diagnostic procedure that removes a small sample of tissue for laboratory testing. It is performed on patients who are suspected of having muscle problems caused by a disease or infection. In the past, the procedure was performed as open surgery. Although the technique allows doctors to obtain a large biopsy sample, it is highly invasive and performed under general anaesthesia, which places the patient at risk of common surgical procedures. Due to the significant advancements in diagnostic techniques, muscle biopsy is now commonly performed percutaneously using a needle that is inserted through the skin.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Percutaneous needle muscle biopsy is performed to diagnose infections that affect the muscles, neuromuscular disorders, and other abnormalities that affect the muscle tissue. Patients who should undergo the procedure are those who are suspected of having:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – Also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a rapidly progressive neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary muscles.
  • Polymyositis – A chronic inflammatory disease of the muscle that causes symmetrical muscle weakness.
  • Muscular dystrophy (MD) – A group of diseases that causes progressive loss of muscle mass leading to an increasing level of disability.
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) – Recognised as the most common type of muscular dystrophy, it is a genetic disorder caused by the mutation of dystrophin, a structural protein in muscle.
  • Trichinosis – A type of infection caused by roundworm Trichinella spiralis. Its symptoms include muscle pain, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, and fever.
  • Myasthenia gravis (MG) – A complex autoimmune disorder that causes problems with the nerves affecting the voluntary muscles of the eyes, throat, mouth, and limbs.
  • Toxoplasmosis – An infection caused by a parasite causing damage to the central nervous system, especially in infants.

Percutaneous needle muscle biopsy provides accurate diagnosis especially in cases where the patient presents with nonspecific symptoms or when imaging studies and laboratory tests are inconclusive. Biopsy findings help doctors rule out certain conditions and initiate a treatment plan.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Before the procedure, diagnostic tests, including blood tests and physical examination, are performed to ensure that the patient is in good health. To minimise potential risks and complications, patients are advised to notify their doctors if they have a history of bleeding disorder, allergic reactions to certain medications and anaesthetic agents, and if they are taking medications including herbal supplements.

To start, the doctor will select the muscle that is not too weak or atrophic to avoid getting biopsy sample from an end-stage muscle where loss of myofibres is severe. Such muscles cannot provide information on what caused the problem being diagnosed.

The patient is then sedated and local anaesthetic is injected to the target site before the biopsy needle is inserted into the skin and then into the muscle where the sample is taken. The biopsy needle is then removed and the opening in the skin is closed using adhesive strips or stitches, if necessary. If stitches are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit.

Possible Risks and Complications

As for the possible risks and complications, percutaneous needle muscle biopsy is associated with:

  • Pain, bruising, and discomfort at the biopsy site
  • Prolonged bleeding and infection of the biopsy site
  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthetic used


  • Omura MC, Motamedi K, UyBico S, Nelson SD, Seeger LL. Revisiting CT-guided percutaneous core needle biopsy of musculoskeletal lesions: contributors to biopsy success. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011 Aug. 197(2):457-61.

  • Rimondi E, Rossi G, Bartalena T, Ciminari R, Alberghini M, Ruggieri P, et al. Percutaneous CT-guided biopsy of the musculoskeletal system: results of 2027 cases. Eur J Radiol. 2011 Jan. 77(1):34-42.


What is Percutaneous Needle Muscle Biopsy: Overview, Benefits, and Expected Results


If you or someone you know ⁣is‌ experiencing muscle weakness,⁤ pain, or any other muscular issues,‍ a ​percutaneous ​needle muscle biopsy may be recommended ‌by your ⁢healthcare provider. This procedure ⁣is a⁢ diagnostic ​tool that helps doctors evaluate the health of your muscles⁢ and identify ‌any underlying conditions or ⁢diseases that may be causing your symptoms.‌ In this article, we will provide an overview of what percutaneous needle muscle ​biopsy entails, ⁢discuss its benefits, ⁤and discuss the expected results from the procedure.

Overview of Percutaneous Needle Muscle Biopsy

A percutaneous needle muscle biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves removing a small sample of muscle tissue for examination. ​The biopsy is typically performed⁣ on an outpatient basis, meaning you ⁢will not need ⁢to​ stay overnight in a hospital. The procedure is relatively quick and usually‌ takes around 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

During the​ procedure,‌ you‌ will⁤ be‍ positioned in a way that allows⁢ the doctor to access the ‍muscle of interest. The area to be biopsied will be cleaned and sterilized, and a local anesthetic will be administered to numb‌ the‍ area. Once the ⁤area is numb, a small⁤ needle is inserted​ into the‍ muscle, and⁤ a small sample of tissue ‍is removed. This sample is then sent to a laboratory ⁣for analysis.

Benefits of Percutaneous Needle Muscle Biopsy

Percutaneous needle muscle biopsy offers several benefits for patients and healthcare providers alike.‌ Some⁤ of the key benefits of ‌this procedure include:

1. Accurate Diagnosis: Muscle⁢ biopsies provide ⁢valuable information⁢ that can help doctors accurately diagnose muscular diseases and conditions. By examining the muscle tissue under a microscope, pathologists can ⁣identify abnormalities, such as​ inflammation, infection, or‌ cellular damage.

2.‍ Treatment Planning: Once a definitive diagnosis is made ⁣through a muscle biopsy, healthcare providers can develop a targeted⁢ treatment plan tailored to the specific condition ⁣or disease affecting the‍ patient’s muscles. This allows for more effective management ‍of the underlying issue and improved patient⁣ outcomes.

3. Monitoring Disease Progression: In some cases, muscle ⁤biopsies may be repeated over time to ⁢monitor the progression of a disease or evaluate the effectiveness of a particular treatment. This can help determine whether ​the disease is stable or worsening⁣ and guide ‌adjustments to ⁣the ‍treatment​ plan as ⁤needed.

4. Research and Development: Muscle biopsies play a⁢ crucial role in advancing medical⁢ knowledge⁣ and ‍understanding​ of muscular diseases. The​ data obtained from biopsies can contribute to ongoing research and ⁣enable the development​ of new ⁣treatments and therapies.

Expected Results from Percutaneous ‍Needle Muscle Biopsy

The results of a percutaneous needle muscle biopsy can provide valuable insights into the health of your muscles and‍ help guide treatment decisions. The expected results may vary depending on the underlying ​reason for the ⁢procedure. Here are some of the potential findings and⁢ their ⁣implications:

1. ‍ Normal ​Muscle Tissue: If the biopsy reveals normal muscle tissue, it suggests ​that there may not be any significant abnormalities or diseases affecting your muscles. This result can be reassuring but may also ‌indicate the need ⁤for further investigation to identify other ⁤possible causes for your symptoms.

2. Inflammation: ​ The presence of inflammation in the muscle tissue may suggest an immune⁤ system ⁤response, such⁣ as an autoimmune disorder or an ⁢infection.‌ Additional tests ⁢or examinations may be necessary to determine the specific cause of the inflammation ‌and guide appropriate treatment.

3. Muscle Fiber Abnormalities: Abnormalities‌ in muscle fibers can indicate⁣ various muscle disorders, such as muscular dystrophy or myopathy. These findings can assist healthcare providers in⁤ making a definitive⁢ diagnosis and ⁢developing a treatment⁢ plan tailored​ to the specific condition.

4. Other Pathological Changes: The ‍muscle biopsy may reveal other pathological ⁢changes,⁢ such as cellular⁤ degeneration, fibrosis, or the presence⁢ of abnormal​ proteins. These findings can provide insights‌ into specific diseases or conditions affecting the muscles and guide treatment decisions accordingly.


Percutaneous needle muscle⁤ biopsy ⁢is a valuable diagnostic tool used to evaluate the health of your muscles and identify underlying⁣ conditions or ⁣diseases. The procedure offers numerous benefits, including accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, disease progression ⁢monitoring, and contributing to research and⁢ development. The expected results ‌from the muscle biopsy can guide treatment ⁤decisions and ‍impact overall patient management. If you ‍are⁤ experiencing muscular symptoms, consult ⁣with ​your healthcare provider to⁤ determine if​ a percutaneous needle muscle biopsy is appropriate for ⁢your situation. Trust the ⁣expertise of ‍medical professionals and allow them to assess and treat your condition ⁤effectively.

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