Muscle biopsies in clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy - Patients' and caregivers' perspective

Neuromuscul Disord. 2019 Aug;29(8):576-584. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2019.06.004. Epub 2019 Jun 12.


The number of clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy is increasing. Many trials require muscle biopsies, which involve an invasive surgical procedure. Little is known about short- and long-term impacts of muscle biopsies as perceived by patients and caregivers. Therefore a survey was held among patients and their caregivers who participated in trials involving muscle biopsies, in seven countries. Seventy-eight responses were received. Analysis revealed that many patients and parents had significant anxiety before the biopsy. The main concern of caregivers was the required general anaesthesia. In most cases biopsies caused pain and temporarily hampered daily activities. The main long-term impact was scarring, although large variation in size was reported. Seventy-nine percent of caregivers were little bothered and 21% were moderately or severely bothered by the scar. Willingness to consider another biopsy in future protocols was higher for open-label studies than for placebo-controlled trials. Caregivers stressed the importance of knowing the results of biopsy analyses; only a minority actually received this information. Recommendations are made on the informed consent procedure regarding risks and consequences of muscle biopsies, and communication of results. Furthermore, efforts should be made to minimise the impact of biopsies through pain management and by considering plastic surgery.

Keywords: Clinical trials; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Muscle biopsy; Patient perspective; Scarring.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anesthesia* / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia* / psychology
  • Biopsy* / adverse effects
  • Biopsy* / psychology
  • Caregivers
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix* / psychology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / diagnosis*
  • Pain, Postoperative* / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Preference*