The Neurology Lab, a collaboration between the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, is a state reference laboratory for peripheral nerve and muscle histopathology (NATA/RCPA Accreditation Number 2146). Established in the late 1960s, the laboratory was the first specialised neuromuscular pathology unit in Australia. It remains one of the world’s leading centres for diagnosis and research into diseases of nerve and muscle.
The laboratory holds one of the largest curated nerve archives in the world. This repository is an invaluable resource for research and teaching across brain and mind sciences. The laboratory has produced over 300 original research publications and trains PhD and other higher degree students.
The laboratory provides light and electron microscopic analysis of nerve biopsies, including teased fibre examination and direct and indirect immunofluorescence. We are developing skin biopsy facilities to aid in the diagnosis of small-fibre and genetic neuropathies.
The laboratory provides routine light microscopic, enzyme-histochemical and immunohistochemical analysis of muscle biopsies for the diagnosis of a large range of inflammatory, metabolic and genetic disorders of muscle. Antibodies for immunohistochemistry are available to test for the majority of less common myopathies such as dysferlinopathy.
Small-fibre sensory neuropathy is a peripheral nerve disease that selectively affects small diameter myelinated and unmyelinated nerve fibres. These fibres are so small that their conduction responses cannot be captured and evaluated by routine nerve conduction studies. Skin biopsy to measure intra-epidermal nerve fibre density has proved to be a useful diagnostic test for small-fibre neuropathies. However, this test is currently not available in Australia. In collaboration with neurologists and scientists at the Mayo Clinic, we hope to set up the test in the Neurology Lab in the future.