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Feature: What happens to a Muscle Biopsy?

Date: 21 October 2021

Labs feature 2

Slow and steady wins the race

The muscle biopsy is a regular test that is conducted here at The Walton Centre. It’s a small day case procedure which involves removing tissue from muscle, usually the thigh or leg and rarely other muscles depending on the symptoms. The sample is frozen to -160C, thinly sliced and then ‘stained’ in our laboratory. This is then tested in numerous ways and reviewed by the neuropathologist to see what is going on at a microscopic level. 

Chief Biomedical Scientist Amanda Williams said: “It’s an incredibly important set of tests our laboratory performs on muscle biopsies.?It requires time and a thorough analysis of the sample to ensure a proper diagnosis can be reached. The Walton Centre is a regional centre for this type of testing too – hospitals from across Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales send muscle biopsies to us for analysis. For one muscle biopsy, we perform multiple procedures and stains looking at a range of things from enzyme activities, chemical changes, pattern of muscle fibres and the ultrastructure of the sample.?Producing a diagnosis from a muscle biopsy is a lengthy process because of the highly skilled scientific work performed in the laboratory coupled with the expert interpretation our Consultant Neuropathologist makes.” 

Each year, the laboratory can process up to 70 muscle biopsies, which can lead to treatment and diagnosis for the patient. The centre also trains staff from across the NHS in the processing of muscle biopsies in a neurological setting.???  

Neuropathologist Dr Nitika Rathi said: “As part of the investigations for neuromuscular disorders, muscle biopsy examination can provide vital information. Various in-house laboratory tests help us to examine the muscle tissue for a range of muscle disorders including inflammatory, metabolic, muscular dystrophy etc. The findings may be diagnostic or in unusual cases may provide the clinicians with valuable information to guide further investigations.”  

Once the samples have been stained and reviewed, a multidisciplinary team meeting, involving neurologists and neuropathologists, is held every fortnight to determine how best to proceed with diagnosis and treatment.  

-Ends-

Notes to editors

Further information, or to arrange a visit contact the Communications Team on 0151 556 3397 or email wcf-tr.waltoncentre.communications@nhs.net.

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the only hospital trust in the UK specialising in neurology, neurosurgery and pain services. It has twice been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. Although the majority of patients come from Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, Lancashire and the Isle of Man, for some specialist treatments of complex disorders we see patients from all parts of the country, referred by their GPs or other neurologists, neurosurgeons and pain clinicians.

For more information please visit: www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk or follow the Trust on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Lower Lane, Fazakerley, Liverpool L9 7LJ

  • Summary:

    The muscle biopsy is a regular test that is conducted here at The Walton Centre. It’s a small day case procedure which involves removing tissue from muscle, usually the thigh or leg and rarely other muscles depending on the symptoms.