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How to Send a Nerve Biopsy

1. Complete the Muscle & Nerve Biopsy Requisition. Questions about completing the requisition can be directed to: University of Iowa Diagnostic Laboratories (UIDL) at 319-384-7212 or toll free at 866-844-2522.

A completed requisition must accompany all requests. It should contain: the patient name, identification number, if applicable, date of collection, date of birth, male/female, tissue source/site, clinical history and differential diagnosis if known.

2. Specimen Preparation: It is important that the nerve biopsy be placed directly into the appropriate fixative immediately after removal in the operating room. This will help prevent autolysis and air-drying artifact.  Kits with isosmolar glutaraldehyde upon request.

  • Obtain a nerve biopsy at least 4-6 cm long
  • Divide the specimen into two pieces; one should be 2-3 cm long for glutaraldehyde fixation.
  • Attach a 1 gram weight to one end of the specimen to be fixed in glutaraldehyde. Attach a thread or suture to the other end (see figure below).
  • Suspend the specimen in 2.5% buffered ISOSMOLAR glutaraldehyde. Isosmolar fixative is VERY IMPORTANT to prevent shrinkage artifacts.
  • Allow nerve to fix overnight in an upright position with tension from the weight. The specimen should be refrigerated during initial fixation and during storage prior to shipment.
  • Place the remaining piece in 10% neutral buffered formalin. Maintain at room temperature.
  • Label the specimens with the patient name, identification number or date of birth, tissue source, and date of collection.
  • Wrap the containers with Parafilm to prevent leakage.
  • Place containers in separate plastic bags (double bagged) for shipment.

3. Specimen Packaging

  • Place the requisition on the outside of the double bagged specimens.
  • Affix "formaldehyde precaution" label on bag.
  • Placed the double-bagged specimen into a box (primary container) with adequate absorbent material in case of leakage.
  • Securely seal the primary container.
  • Place the primary container in a secondary shipping container, which should also contain enough absorbent material to prevent any leakage from escaping outside the container.
  • These specimens can be sent by our Courier services within our service area or by overnight express airmail.
  • Ship at ambient temperature. These tissues SHOULD NOT freeze.

4. Specimen Transportation
UI Diagnostic Laboratories can usually provide for specimen transport either through our own courier services or through other transportation providers such as overnight carriers. If you need assistance or information in transporting specimens to our laboratories, please contact UIDL Client Services and a representative will provide assistance in determining the most appropriate shipping arrangement.

319-384-7212 (local)
1-866-844-2522 (toll free)

Shipping address:
University of Iowa Diagnostic Laboratories (UIDL)
Department of Pathology
200 Hawkins Drive 5231 RCP
Iowa City, IA 52242-1087