ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DOCTOR’S KNIFE? YOUR PARKINSON’S SKIN PUNCH BIOPSY DOESN’T HAVE TO HURT
When asking yourself the question What is a skin biopsy?, our Springfield, MO clinic wants you to know that even though it might seem like a daunting procedure, a Parkinson’s skin punch biopsy doesn’t have to be a frightening experience. It may sound intimidating, but understanding the facts about this minimally invasive medical examination can help alleviate much of your fear and anxiety. In this blog post, I’ll cover what a biopsy is, when it should be done for Parkinson’s patients, and why it’s necessary. By staying informed and arming yourself with knowledge prior to visiting your physician’s clinic for treatment, you can take control of the process. Don’t let apprehension stand in your way—it’s time to face the doctor’s knife with confidence!
You May or May Not Have Parkinson’s Disease. Let’s be Sure.
Imagine you came to see me, it was quite clear that something wasn’t right. You have a little bit of tremor, a shuffling gate, and a somehow blank facial expression. While I may have suspected Parkinson’s Disease at first glance, we had a conversation about wanting more information before seeking treatment or medication.
So we decide to do a Skin Punch Biopsy.
–A note on insurance: This procedure Is covered by insurance, by and large. I have yet to have insurance that denies coverage for the procedure. Although, as many of you know, there are different kinds of insurance plans, and many people have high-deductible plans, Even though your procedure may be covered, you still need to pay out-of-pocket costs until you meet the deductible. The good news is that if Medicare’s got your back with a secondary insurance provider, it looks like after that point they’ll have you 100% covered. If you don’t have a secondary, you might be charged 20% of the cost of this test.-–
You walk in, and you see me heading off to the examination area. My compassionate nurse will lend an assisting hand as you gracefully climb up onto the exam table, where I’ll be doing the test from an optimal angle. You will be helped into a side-lying position.
How It’s Done
We need to get skin samples from three parts of the body.
- a skin sample from about 10 cm above the outside of one of your ankles (either right or left). If you have a tattoo, we want to avoid this side. I will use a felt-tip pen to make a circle about the size of a nickel.
- Moving up to your knee, I’m going to measure another 10 cm above the outside point of the lateral knee up to your thigh.
- Take your finger and put it at the back of your neck. Tuck your chin toward your chest. Just a little bit toward the bottom of your neck, where your shoulders and your neck come together, you should be able to easily feel a bump. This is your C7 spinous process, a part of your cervical spine. I’m going to measure 3 cm (about an inch to an inch and a half) to one side of that part and draw another circle the size of a nickel.
To ensure the utmost safety while I’m performing your procedure, I’ll be gloved up with sterile gloves. Next comes a Chloraprep™ at its core looks like a giant Q-tip and is infused with an alcohol substance to give off extra anti-bacterial protection for your skin.
Using the antiseptic technique, I’m going to clean your skin. I’m going to clean the areas I marked: above your ankle, above your knee, and to the side of the C7 process.
The next step will feel a bit uncomfortable. I know needles can be intimidating, but the one used here is tiny and gentle, like an insulin needle or something you’d get during your TB (tuberculosis) test. It’s totally normal to feel some stinging as it goes in, but don’t worry; this syringe comes with its own 30-gauge mini-needle that keeps discomfort at bay.
I’m going to go around the circle marks I made on your skin. I don’t want to go through it because that could leave a mark like a tattoo. I’m going to stay close to it, just outside or inside each area. Then I will put numbing medicine—lidocaine with epinephrine—on you. The epinephrine in it will help stop bleeding, so when we do the biopsy, there won’t be much blood.
Getting ready for a biopsy can be nerve-wracking, but the actual procedure itself is usually over and done in no time! After already putting in five to ten minutes of preparation, you’ll only need an extra minute or two before it’s finished.
More About This Test
We use a hollow, circular scalpel in this procedure. At the tip of this instrument, a little silver part coming out is essentially a sharp blade. There is also a tiny hole, about the size of a ballpoint pen, that you click on to release the tip. That is how small the skin punch biopsy is. And remember, you have been numbed up.
I’m going to press the instrument against your skin. It will move back and forth in a circle. It needs to be sharp so it can go through your skin easily. I will hold it almost straight up while taking it off. Usually, the skin stays on the instrument, but if it doesn’t, I’ll use tweezers to take the piece of skin off.
Once we have the skin sample, my nurse will be ready with tubes that have preservatives in them. She will have the tube open, and we will take the piece of skin and put it into the tube. Then, we put the cap back on and did two more biopsies. My nurse will then put a little pressure bandage on the leg, above the knee, and next to that bony protuberance in your neck where we took samples.
You should keep the bandage on for a couple of days and keep things clean and dry, just to make sure we don’t introduce any type of dirt or bacteria into the wound.
What Happens Next?
After a quick and painless 10-15 minutes, you can look forward to heading back home. In just three short weeks, we’ll get the news from CND Life Sciences on whether or not Alpha Synuclein Protein is present in your skin layer. With this, if the clinical suspicion is Parkinson’s disease, that confirms the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
You might say, “Well, Dr. Sharlin, if Lewy bodies or Alpha Synuclein Proteins are found in Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, and Lewy body dementia, then really how specific is the test?” You’re making a good point, but I would say a couple of different things.
First, if we’re trying to distinguish between essential tremors, Parkinson’s disorders, and neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disorders, the test will allow me to do that. If we’re trying to distinguish between drug-induced Parkinsonism and a neurodegenerative Parkinson family disorder, the skin punch biopsy can do that too.
However, let me refer you back to our article on the IDENTIFY pillar.
At the core of this pillar is the idea that a detailed history and physical testing are absolutely critical to the neurological diagnosis. Tests like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) do not substitute for a good neurological evaluation. So if your doctor is evaluating you for possible Parkinson’s, possible Lewy body dementia, or possible multiple system atrophy, they need to sit down with you and carefully listen to your narrative, ask appropriate questions where we need to fill in a few gaps, and go through a detailed neurological exam. This is where the detective work starts so that the tests we do confirm our clinical suspicion. It’s not a fishing expedition.
If I were to suspect you may have Parkinson’s, your results could bring us the confirmation we need, and that can open up a few doors. We can assess if Levodopa would be helpful in convincing you to take medication or invite you into my Brain TuneUp program, which provides an alternate approach for addressing any potential issues of Parkinsonism. Whichever route we choose together, it’ll give us clarity on how best to move forward.
And remember, everyone is different. Some people need the medication, some people can get by with Brain TuneUp alone, and some people really thrive when they combine the two together. After all, we talk about triggers and mediators—what brought you here and what’s keeping you here.
If you are looking to make a meaningful, long-term change in your health condition, let’s not just take the same old course of action. By getting at the underlying causes and addressing them together with medications designed to help improve symptoms, we can set you on an entirely new path that could lead to much better outcomes over time.
If you want to stay ahead of the curve in diagnostic medicine, then CND Life Sciences are where it’s at. With their leading-edge technology and services, they’ve revolutionized my practice—and more importantly, given so many patients greater hope for health outcomes beyond what was previously possible. Check them out today.
While Parkinson’s disease can bring fear and confusion, the Skin Punch Biopsy used to diagnose or rule out this condition doesn’t have to be one of those feared things. This test comes with its own set of concerns, but knowing what to expect before it takes place will help alleviate your worries. If a doctor suspects Parkinson’s disease, it is important to get tested right away, as early detection and treatment are the most effective ways of managing this chronic health condition. A Skin Punch Biopsy may be the right test for you. Contact us today to learn more about the procedure, how it is done, and what happens after the results come back. Don’t put off getting answers regarding your health—schedule a discovery call and find out if this process is right for you.
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Are you ready to take the first step towards better management of your Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative conditions? We invite you to join us for a free discovery call – no pressure! During this call we can both explore if there is potential for us to work together and answer any questions that come up.Don’t hesitate to reach out to our neurological clinic in Springfield, MO for any Parkinson’s skin biopsy concerns or questions. We are more than happy to help!
DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our neurological clinic in Springfield, MO for any Parkinson’s skin biopsy concerns or questions. We are more than happy to help!