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Eur Respir J. 2005 Mar;25(3):431-40.

Skeletal muscle microbiopsy: a validation study of a minimally invasive technique.

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Service Central de Physiologie Clinique, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Arnaud de Villeneuve, 34295 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


The study of the peripheral skeletal muscle function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is of growing interest, but often requires biopsies, usually with the Bergström technique. The current study was designed to test the validity of a minimally invasive technique: the microbiopsy. In 17 patients with COPD and four normal subjects, two specimens of the vastus lateralis were taken percutaneously under local anaesthesia, one with a 16-gauge needle (microbiopsy) and the other with the Bergström needle. The enzymatic activity of citrate synthase (CS) and phosphofructokinase (PFK), and the myosin heavy chain (MyoHC) composition were measured for both techniques. The subjects reported no pain or much less with the microbiopsy compared with the Bergström biopsy. The microbiopsy sample weight reached 55+/-17 mg. The two techniques showed excellent agreement for CS activity and MyoHC composition. The PFK activity did not differ statistically between the techniques, but the agreement was moderate. The agreement between both biopsy techniques was stable over time. The median (range) fibre number within the microbiopsy specimens was 144 (38-286). In conclusion, the current study shows the feasibility and validity of a minimally invasive muscle biopsy technique that appears more comfortable for subjects, compared with the Bergström technique.

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