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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Suction-modified needle biopsy technique for the human soleus muscle.

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

The needle biopsy technique for the soleus muscle is of particular interest because of the muscle's unique fiber type distribution, contractile properties, and sensitivity to unloading. Unlike other commonly biopsied muscles, the soleus is not fully superficial and is in close proximity to neurovascular structures, resulting in a more challenging biopsy. Because of this, a standardized protocol for performing needle biopsies on the human soleus muscle that is safe, reliable, and repeatable is presented.

Ultrasonography was used on an initial set of 12 subjects to determine the optimal biopsy zone, thereby guiding the location of the incision site. There were 45 subjects recruited who attended 2 separate biopsy sessions. Each biopsy session incorporated 3 passes of the biopsy needle proximal, posterior, and distal using suction from a portable vacuum source producing 3 separate muscle specimens.

There were 84 soleus muscle biopsy procedures which were successfully conducted yielding 252 total samples without complication. Ultrasonography was used to confirm biopsy needle infiltration of the soleus muscle. Average sample weight obtained per pass was 61.5 +/- 15.7 mg. Histochemistry and molecular analyses demonstrated a considerably higher amount of slow type I MHC in comparison to the vastus lateralis, providing verification for the successful sampling of the soleus muscle.

The procedure presented consists of a detailed protocol to accurately and consistently obtain muscle biopsy samples from the human soleus muscle. We have demonstrated that the human soleus biopsy is a safe, reliable, and repeatable procedure providing ample tissue for multiple types of analyses.

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