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Patients: What to Expect During Your Cutaneous Nerve Biopsy

cutaneous nerve test affirmation from nurse

Getting a Cutaneous Nerve Biopsy? It’s Easy.

A cutaneous nerve biopsy is a simple test that helps your doctor examine the nerves in your skin. A medical professional can perform the test right in the doctor’s office or in a clinic.

The Process: A Quick Overview

  • The doctor, nurse or staff member numbs an area of your arm or leg and removes a very small sample of skin. This sample is shipped to the Johns Hopkins Cutaneous Nerve Laboratory, where it is treated with special stains that make the nerves within the skin easier to see under the microscope.
  • In a week or two, the Cutaneous Nerve Laboratory informs your doctor of the findings from the test, and the doctor then can discuss them with you.

Why do I need this test?

Looking under the microscope at a small sample of skin taken from your arm or leg can show your doctor the number of sensory nerves present — the nerves that enable you to feel touch, heat and cold, and pain. The test can also reveal the shape and general health of these nerves.

About Neuropathy

If your doctor has ordered a cutaneous nerve biopsy for you, it may be because he or she suspects you have a neuropathy— a problem with these sensory nerves. There are over 100 types of neuropathies.

A neuropathy can cause sensations of tingling, numbness, burning or pins and needles. Sometimes the cause of a neuropathy is unknown; in other cases, there is an association with conditions such as

Though the test cannot determine the exact cause of your symptoms, the cutaneous nerve biopsy can provide information about your sensory nerves that helps your doctor determine what tests and treatments may be best for you. 

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Maryland Patients

To schedule an appointment for a cutaneous nerve/skin biopsy, please have your doctor contact our office at 410-614-6399
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Adult Neurology: 410-955-9441
Pediatric Neurology: 410-955-4259
Adult Neurosurgery: 410-955-6406
Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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