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Carpal tunnel biopsy

Definition

Carpal tunnel biopsy is a test in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the carpal tunnel (part of the wrist).

Alternative Names

Biopsy - carpal tunnel

How the test is performed

The skin of your wrist is scrubbed and injected with medicine that numbs the area. Through a small cut, a sample of tissue is removed from the carpal tunnel. This is done by direct removal of tissue or by needle aspiration.

Sometimes this procedure is performed at the time of carpal tunnel release.

How to prepare for the test

Your doctor or nurse may ask that you not eat anything for a few hours before the test.

How the test will feel

You may feel some stinging or burning when the numbing medicine is injected. You may also feel some pressure or tugging during the procedure. Afterward, the area may be tender or sore for a few days.

Why the test is performed

This test is usually done to see if you have a condition called amyloidosis. It is not usually done to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.

Normal Values

No abnormal tissues are found.

What abnormal results mean

An abnormal result is a sign of amyloidosis.

What the risks are

  • Bleeding
  • Damage to the nerve in this area
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Special considerations

If the carpal tunnel biopsy reveals a problem, your health care provider may suggest a carpal tunnel release procedure. Additional surgery to correct or improve the problem may be recommended.

References

Gertz MA. Amyloidosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 194.

LeBlanc KE, Cestia W. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(8):952-958.


Review Date: 8/11/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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