Health Encyclopedia - Test
Carpal tunnel biopsy
Carpal tunnel biopsy is a test in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the carpal tunnel (part of the wrist).
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.
No abnormal tissues are found.
What abnormal results mean
An abnormal result is a sign of amyloidosis.
What the risks are
- Damage to the nerve in this area
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
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.
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.
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.