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BACKGROUND: Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and strength, is associated adversely with disability, morbidity and mortality. Epidemiological findings suggest influences operating across the life course may be important. Our aim was to ascertain the feasibility and acceptability of obtaining muscle tissue from healthy older people in order to ultimately identify cellular mechanisms underlying life course influences on sarcopenia. METHODS: 105 men with documented birth weight consented to detailed assessment of muscle mass and strength, and a biopsy of the vastus lateralis using the Weil-Blakesley conchotome. Acceptability was ascertained by questionnaire and a 100 mm pain Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). 100 mm indicated severe pain. RESULTS: Muscle biopsy was successfully carried out in 102 out of 105 participants, mean yield 107 mg (range 20-290 mg). There were no serious wound complications. Ninety-three participants completed feedback questionnaires. The median pain VAS score during the procedure was 7 mm (Interquartile range [IQR] 1-34), 4 mm (IQR 0-16) one day after the procedure and 1mm (IQR 0-4) 7 days after the procedure. 60 (65%) participants were back to their normal levels of activity one day after the procedure. 85 (91%) found this procedure acceptable and would have the procedure again. CONCLUSION: Muscle biopsy using a Weil-Blakesley conchotome is both feasible and acceptable in community dwelling older men participating in epidemiological research. The excellent yield of biopsy tissue will allow morphological and molecular studies of muscle to be integrated into an epidemiological study facilitating investigation of the mechanisms underpinning sarcopenia that could potentially be altered by life course influences.


Journal article


J nutr health aging

Publication Date





10 - 15


Aged, Biopsy, Epidemiologic Methods, Feasibility Studies, Humans, Male, Muscle Strength, Pain, Pain Measurement, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Quadriceps Muscle, Reference Values, Sarcopenia, Surveys and Questionnaires