The Histopathology Lab processes muscle specimens for veterinary surgeons across Europe.
We provide comprehensive routine and speciality laboratory tests and services for all species and aim to have a turnaround time to initial report of less than five working days from receipt of a sample.
The laboratory is able to perform histochemical, enzyme and immunohistochemical evaluation of muscle biopsies. Shipments must arrive between Monday and Thursday.
Please note that we can only accept samples from EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Muscle pathology biopsy techniques
The quality of the samples submitted to us is essential to optimize diagnostic efficiency. Incorrect preservation or sampling may lead to a non diagnostic sample.
A biopsy at least 0.5 x 0.5 x 1 cm should be taken from an affected but not end stage muscle. In cases with generalised disease, more than one sample has a greater chance of including representative lesions.
If electromyography was performed on one side then the opposite side should be chosen to biopsy.
Biopsy of the cranial tibial muscle is often rewarding when a disease process preferentially affects distal nerves or muscles and has the additional benefit of allowing a combined muscle and nerve biopsy.
Wrap the biopsy in a piece of damp gauze (not dripping), place into a small plastic container, Place close to but not in contact with a freezerpack and insulate both in some bubble wrap (ie: the freezer pack close to the sample inside the bubble wrap). A smaller portion of the biopsy should be smoothed onto a piece of cardboard, and after a minute or two, immersed in 10% formalin (in case there is a delay in arrival of the package). Seal the formalin container inside a ziplock bag.
Literature on small animal biopsy
- Muscle biopsy techniques are well reviewed in Dickinson and LeCouteur, “Muscle and nerve biopsy”.
- Veterinary Clinics of North America - Small Animal Practice, 32(1): p. 63 - 102, 2002
Further information on Equine biopsy techniques
For generalised myopathies or focal disease it is advisable to biopsy an apparently affected muscle.
Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy preferentially affects type II predominant (locomotory) muscles such as the proximal semitendinosus, while Equine Motor Neuron Disease affects type I (postural) muscles including the medial tail head muscle, the m. sacrocaudalis dorsalis medialis.
To obtain the biopsy, the horse should be sedated and administered local anaesthesia with either a caudal epidural or line block over the incision site, without actually injecting into the muscle to be sampled.
Make a 3 cm longitudinal skin incision parallel to the muscle fibres. Repeat through the fascia.
Obtain a strip of muscle approximately 3 cm in length by 1 cm in diameter. The muscle should be undermined first so it does not retract when one end is cut.
Punch biopsies do not provide enough tissue for evaluation.
Literature on equine biopsy
- The techniques are well reviewed in “Muscle biopsy: a routine diagnostic procedure”, Ledwith and Mcgowan.
- Equine Veterinary Education, 16(2): p. 62 - 67, 2004
Sample shipment guidelines
Most of the muscle sample should be wrapped into very lightly saline-moistened gauze (not dripping), placed into a dry water-tight container and shipped close to but not in direct contact with standard freezer cold packs.
An additional portion of muscle should be placed and smoothed onto a piece of cardboard, left for two minutes to air dry and then put into 10% formalin (in case there is a delay in delivery). Please do not place differing muscle sites into the same container.
Fresh samples must have a cool pack in the envelope, packaged so that the sample is close to but not in direct contact with the cool pack, and should be couriered to arrive between Monday and Thursday For optimal results ship the sample to be received within a maximum of 24 - 36 hours. DHL and Federal Express have provided dependable overnight service for us in the past.
NOTE: Avoid sending samples on a Friday for Saturday delivery.
Make sure that the package includes a covering letter giving the signalment, history of the case and which muscle was biopsied as well as your address, telephone number, fax number and email address. Please ensure the package is labelled in large red letters as: "BIOLOGICAL SAMPLES - URGENT".
NOTE: Do not send small fresh muscle samples on card. Card will absorb any tissue fluids and rapidly dehydrate the fresh unfixed sample, (particularly small samples), leaving an non -diagnostic muscle sample by the time it arrives at the laboratory. Only use card for formalin fixed samples.
Sample shipment notification
Please phone us on 0131 651 7458 to let us know that you have shipped a sample and we can alert you in the event that the sample has not arrived by the expected date.
For importation of samples from EU member States, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein
All packages must be clearly labelled and include a copy of the facilitation letter obtained at the following link:
Fresh muscle cooled on ice plus formalin fixed tissue
We require that biopsies are taken, prepared and shipped correctly (please see above).
- Sample submission forms are available for PDF download