Foot and ankle problems usually fall into the following categories:
- Acquired from improper footwear, physical stress, or small mechanical changes within the foot.
- Arthritic foot problems, which typically involve one or more joint.
- Congenital foot problems, which occur at birth, are generally inherited.
- Infectious foot problems, which are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal disorders.
- Neoplastic disorders, usually called tumors, which are the result of abnormal growth of tissue and may be benign or malignant.
- Traumatic foot problems, which are associated with foot and ankle injuries.
What is a Soft Tissue Biopsy?
A soft tissue biopsy is the removal and microscopic examination of a small sample of soft tissue for diagnostic purposes. “Soft tissue” includes the skin, fat, muscle, and tendons that surround, connect, or support other tissues or organs.
Soft tissue biopsies require little time or involvement from the patient. They enable the foot and ankle surgeon to reach an accurate diagnosis and determine the best treatment for the specific condition.
Conditions Identified by Soft Tissue Biopsies
Non-surgical treatment may help relieve the pain of a plantar fibroma, although it will not make the mass disappear. The foot and ankle surgeon may select one or more of the following non-surgical options:
Benign pigmented, or colored, spots (moles or nevus)
Fungal or bacterial infections
Rashes (such as eczema or dermatitis)
Lesions related to a disease affecting the entire body (such as diabetes)
Nodular conditions (such as a ganglion cyst, lipoma, or fibroma)
Toenail conditions (onychomycosis, psoriasis)
Wart-like growths on the skin (benign keratoses)
Premalignant conditions (actinic and seborrheic keratoses)
What Does the Biopsy Involve?
A biopsy involves removal of a small piece of tissue, and takes just a few minutes. The procedure performed will depend on the tissue to be sampled. After numbing the area, the surgeon performs one of the following:
Shave biopsy. A thin piece of tissue is shaved off.
Punch biopsy. A small, round instrument removes a tiny core of tissue. Stitches may be needed.
Incisional or excisional biopsy. A piece, or the entire lesion, is removed. Stitches are often needed.
Once the sample is obtained, the surgeon sends it to a clinical laboratory so that the condition can be identified. The specimen will be examined by a pathologist who specializes in evaluating soft tissue biopsies.
After the Biopsy
Patients should follow the instructions provided by the surgeon for care of the biopsy site. If the area has stitches, an appointment will be scheduled for their removal.
It usually takes several days for the lab results to arrive at the surgeon’s office. If the patient has not heard about the results after 10 days, the surgeon’s office should be contacted. Biopsy results, as well as additional treatment that may be required, will then be discussed.