Our experience with needle biopsy of the heart in dogs indicates that myocardial tissue can be sampled one or more times in each animal with comparative safety. Tamponade, pericarditis, serious arrhythmias, or myocardial infarction due to the interruption of coronary vessels was not observed. Excellent specimens were obtained for critical study by light and electron microscopy. Casten and Marsh (1) have used biochemical techniques to study myocardial tissue obtained in similar fashion. Histochemical methods would also be applicable.
Although limited to animal studies at present, the technique may conceivably be adapted to the study of human disease. Myocardial puncture has been carried out (20–22) in patients for the recording of intracardiac pressures and for other diagnostic purposes without apparent harm.
Our study of the myocardium of dogs by electron microscopy generally confirms the observations of other workers, except that presence of significant numbers of red blood cells in the extravascular spaces of the heart had not been previously described (and is possibly an artifact). Nevertheless, it is notable that the tissue cells, cellular membranes, and intracellular structures appeared to be intact and undistorted in the tissue specimens which were obtained, fixed, and examined by these methods.