Newcastle Laboratories

Muscle biopsy samples for histological investigation

Guidelines on sending muscle biopsy samples for histological investigation when an inflammatory or other myopathy is suspected

Dr Tuomo Polvikoski – Honorary Consultant Neuropathologist



  • Preferable diameter of the muscle biopsy sample is 5mm (can be more)
  • To ensure that the quality of the sample is optimal for diagnostic evaluation, the biopsy sample should be handled like it would be as an intra-operative specimen for frozen sections.
  • The sample needs to be wrapped fresh in a saline-dampened gauze and placed in a sterile universal/container                      (= NOT in formalin)
  • The request form should be labelled as “urgent, fresh muscle sample” in addition to filling in the relevant clinical information.
  • The sample must be sent immediately to the Department of Cellular Pathology reception located at the New Victoria Wing, Level 3, RVI.

It would be helpful to call  and inform the Muscle and Nerve laboratory beforehand in order to give a few minutes warning at the time  the muscle sample is about to leave the operation theatre.  The Muscle and Nerve laboratory is part of the Immunohistochemistry within the Department of Cellular Pathology and can be contacted at 0191 28 24270

The fresh muscle sample will be orientated, sub-dissected for electron microscopy and snap frozen immediately after its arrival to the laboratory.