Getting a Diagnostic Skin Biopsy

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If you would like to have skin biopsy testing for small-fiber neuropathy, here are three options:

1. Schedule at Massachusetts General Hospital:

Offered for adults and children in Boston, MA, and for adults only in Dover or Portsmouth, NH, from these MGH providers.
 
Before calling to schedule, have your doctor fill out and fax this form to your chosen provider: Skin Biopsy Request
 

2. Have your biopsy taken elsewhere and send the sample to MGH for analysis:

If you want to send skin biopsies performed by an outside physician in the United States (see our Neuropathy Experts) to MGH for analysis, please follow the directions in this packet: Outside Biopsy Packet
 
To request a kit for performing a nerve biopsy, email nerveunit@mgh.harvard.edu.
 

3. Request a second opinion of a biopsy slide analyzed elsewhere:

If you previously had a skin biopsy at another facility, we are more than happy to provide a second opinion. Please contact the outside facility and request that your slides be sent to:
 
Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander
MGH Nerve Unit
Dept of Neuropathology WRN310
55 Fruit Street
Boston MA 02114
 
You will need to fill out a form from the outside facility. Please have them include a copy of the request for a second opinion, and the physician (and contact information) to whom you would like the results sent.
 

For all services: If you do not have an MGH medical record number, please call (866) 211-6588 to register and provide insurance information. 

 

What to expect after a skin biopsy

The small wound may ooze on the day of the biopsy. To minimize oozing, keep the tight bandage on for a few hours, avoid vigorous exercise for several hours, and keep your leg up when you are sitting.
 
Keep the area covered with a Band-Aid for several weeks until the scab drops off. Change the Band-Aid daily after bathing. Keep the area away from dirt; swimming is okay.
 
You may experience redness and swelling for a few days at the site. Once the scab falls off after a few weeks, you may see a pink scar that will fade over the following months.
 
Call your doctor if redness or swelling becomes worse or doesn’t go away, or if you see pus coming from the biopsy area.
 

Questions? Contact the MGH Nerve Unit:

(617) 726-9391