2017 Annual Meeting

SC56-Nerve and Muscle Biopsies: A Patient-Centered Approach for the General Pathologist

March 9 2017, 1:00pm to 4:30pm


SC56-Nerve and Muscle Biopsies: A Patient-Centered Approach for the General Pathologist

Session Credits: 3 CME and 3 SAMs

Faculty: Peter Pytel, MD, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL and Douglas Anthony, MD, PhD, Brown University, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI

Nerve and muscle biopsies are used to guide the management of a patients neuromuscular problem and sometimes require special handling. This course is designed to cover the indications for nerve and muscle biopsies, and provide guidance for routine handling in the busy surgical pathology laboratory. Many decisions about processing nerve and muscle biopsies can be made in the surgical pathology lab, along with criteria for when specialized reference laboratories are needed. Understanding the clinical situation of the patient provides the best background for determining the optimal approach for handling these specimens. Routine histologic processing and commonly-available stains are all that is required in many cases, and some laboratories utilize this approach. In other clinical situations, specialized processing is needed and can be arranged with specialized reference labs. In all cases, discussion with the diagnostic clinical team will clarify the differential diagnosis and decrease diagnostic delays that can be caused by insufficient clinical history. A brief overview of handling is provided in the context of common clinical settings. The most common clinical scenarios are discussed and the best approaches in those cases outlined. Pairs of cases with similar clinical scenarios are presented to illustrate the role of the diagnostic biopsy.

Virtual slides and still images, along with histories, will be posted on the USCAP website for review by pre-registrants prior to the meeting. A syllabus reviewing diagnostic features and differential diagnosis, as well as a current reference list will also be made available online. All course registrants will receive web access to the PowerPoint presented at the USCAP Annual Meeting along with the text portion of the syllabus.

Upon completion of this educational activity, participants should be able to

  • Make decisions on the appropriate triage of muscle and nerve biopsy specimens
  • Identify common morphologic changes in muscle and nerve biopsies
  • Establish a differential diagnosis based on these changes and pertinent clinical information
  • Communicate common findings on muscle and nerve biopsies to clinicians
  • Define complex issues that are beyond routine scope of surgical pathology.


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