The major potential complications of a nerve biopsy include bleeding, infection, scarring, permanent numbness on the outer side of the foot, and the possibility of developing chronic pain at the site of the biopsy. Bleeding and infection are the usual potential complications of any surgical procedure. Bleeding is minimal once care is taken to ensure avoidance of "blood thinning" agents (anticoagulants, aspirin, etc.) prior to the procedure. The risk of infection is slightly increased in sural nerve biopsy due to the location of the incision site which is close to the foot. Incision site infections are usually easily treated with oral antibiotics. The sural nerve provides sensation for the outer side of the foot and once it is removed, sensation will most likely be permanently lost, or possibly just altered, on the outer side of the foot. Chronic pain at the site of the nerve biopsy occurs in 3 to 5 percent of patients undergoing a nerve biopsy.
In addition to routine histology, a properly processed nerve biopsy must include semi-thin sections and teased nerve fiber preparations. These techniques are necessary to arrive at a proper diagnostic interpretation of the nerve biopsy.