A soft tissue biopsy is a medical procedure that involves the removal and microscopic examination of a small sample of skin, muscle, fat, tendons, or any other soft tissue. The primary goal of this diagnostic tool is to determine the nature of a disease or disorder affecting a certain area or organ of the body. In the feet, soft tissue biopsies are commonly performed on skin lesions or nodules found in the plantar fascia, muscles, or tendons.
Plantar fibroma, for instance, is a benign tissue mass found in the arch of the foot that can cause pain while walking. A soft tissue biopsy can help diagnose this condition and rule out other more serious causes of pain in the foot. Other conditions that can be identified through soft tissue biopsy include freckles, moles, infection, rashes, lesions associated with systemic diseases such as diabetes, nodular conditions like lipomas or ganglion cysts, toenail conditions such as psoriasis, and wart-like growths.
The biopsy procedure itself is quick and straightforward. Before the biopsy, the surgeon will first numb the affected area with local anesthesia. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the surgeon will then remove a small piece of tissue using one of the following methods:
– Shave biopsy: a thin layer of tissue is gently scraped off the skin
– Punch biopsy: a tiny core of tissue is extracted using a small, round instrument
– Incisional or excisional biopsy: a small piece, or the entire lesion or nodule, is removed using a scalpel or a similar instrument.
The extracted tissue will then be sent to a clinical laboratory to determine the nature of the lesion or mass. The results of the biopsy usually take several days to arrive, after which the foot and ankle surgeon will discuss with the patient the diagnosis and the treatment options available.
After the biopsy, patients need to follow the surgeon’s instructions regarding care and hygiene of the biopsy site. In some cases, stitches may be required and an appointment will need scheduling to have these removed once the site is healed. Patients should also expect a little inflammation and/or bruising to the biopsy site but this should subside within a week.
In summary, a soft tissue biopsy can help diagnose a range of conditions affecting the feet and ankles, including plantar fibroma, rashes, nodules, and toenail issues. If you have a foot or ankle concern that may require a biopsy, please contact Dr. Gilbert Huang, DPM to schedule an appointment today.