Carpal tunnel biopsy

Alternative names
Biopsy - carpal tunnel

Carpal tunnel biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a small portion of tissue is removed from the carpal tunnel (part of the wrist).

How the test is performed

The skin of your wrist is scrubbed and injected with a local anesthetic, which numbs the area. Through a small incision, a sample of tissue is removed from the carpal tunnel (by direct removal of tissue or needle aspiration).

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

How to prepare for the test
Fasting may be advised for a few hours before the test.

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child’s age:

  • infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

You may feel some stinging or burning when the local anesthetic 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 may be performed when the diagnosis of amyloidosis is suspected in a patient with symptoms consistent with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Normal Values
No abnormal tissues are found.

What abnormal results mean
Amyloidosis involving the carpal tunnel.

What the risks are

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

Special considerations

If the biopsy indicates abnormalities of the carpal tunnel, your health care provider may suggest the carpal tunnel release procedure and/or further surgery to address the abnormality.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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