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UR Medicine


Skin Biopsy

David Herrmann, M.D., Director

A minimally invasive 3 mm punch skin biopsy can be used to evaluate epidermal sensory nerve fibers, which cannot be evaluated by nerve conduction studies and EMG. Skin biopsies are typically taken from the ankle region and thigh, although the location can be varied based on the patient’s symptoms and condition.

Skin biopsies can help diagnose:

  • Suspected small fiber sensory neuropathies in patients with unexplained burning, pain, numbness, or tingling in their feet or legs
  • The presence and severity of sensory neuropathy when nerve conduction studies and EMG are not diagnostic
  • Focal sensory neuropathies such as meralgia paresthetica (lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy)
  • Presence of small fiber neuropathy in patients with fibromyalgia
  • A peripheral nervous system cause for numbness or tingling and distinguish it from central sensory disorders (e.g., multiple sclerosis) that do not cause loss of epidermal nerve fibers
  • Small fiber neuropathy as a cause of late onset restless leg syndrome
  • Amyloid deposition

Schedule a Patient:

The University of Rochester Cutaneous Innervation Laboratory processes skin biopsy specimens for analysis of epidermal nerve fiber density and morphology. If you would like to schedule a patient to have the skin biopsy procedure performed at University of Rochester Medical Center, please call 585-275-2559. To order a skin biopsy through URMC’s eRecord system, go to the Meds and Orders section and type in Neuromuscular Biopsy. Additionally, requisitions may be faxed to 585-273-1255.

Samples from Outside Institutions:

The cutaneous innervation laboratory also accepts skin biopsies obtained at outside institutions or physician offices for processing and analysis of epidermal nerve fiber density and morphology. If you wish to establish such a service through the cutaneous innervation laboratory, please first contact Don Henderson at 585-275-1331 for detailed information regarding this service.