What should the patient know about biopsies?

No special preparation is needed before having a skin biopsy.

Before a skin biopsy, Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risk, how it will be done, or what the results will mean.

Tell your doctor if you:

✽  Are taking any medicines, particularly anti-inflammatory medicines such as prednisone. Anti-inflammatory medicines may change the way your biopsy looks under the microscope.

✽  Are allergic to any medicines.

✽  Have had any bleeding problems or are taking blood-thinning medicines, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).

✽  Are or might be pregnant.

You may be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

How It Is Done

✽  Usually the place where the biopsy will be taken is cleaned with an alcohol wipe.

✽  A marker may be used to outline the edges of the skin sample.

✽  For some biopsies, a surgical drape is used to cover the area around the biopsy and the doctor will wear a mask, gown, and gloves.

✽  Several different methods may be used to obtain a skin sample, depending on the size and location of the skin lesion.

✽  The skin sample is placed in a solution, such as formaldehyde, or in a sterile container if infection is suspected. In each of these procedures, the tissue is then examined under a microscope.

Choosing the type of and site for a biopsy

✽  It is crucial that the site of a biopsy is chosen carefully, or the pathological diagnosis could be incorrect or misleading. Here are a few guidelines to help find the best site, some general advice and pitfalls to avoid, depending on the type of skin lesion.

Obtaining the results of the biopsy

✽  It usually takes about one or two weeks to obtain the result from the pathology laboratory, but can sometimes take longer if special stains or second opinions are required.

✽  The pathologist describes what is observed under light microscopy in several sections of the biopsy sample, and either makes a diagnosis or assists in differentiating between the suggested range of clinical diagnoses.

SOURCES

✽  http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/skin-biopsy/
✽  http://www.webmd.com/cancer/skin-biopsy#1
✽  http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/skin-biopsy/home/ovc-20196287
✽  http://www.webmd.com/cancer/what-is-a-biopsy#1
✽  http://www.medicinenet.com/skin_biopsy/article.htm
✽  http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/skin-biopsy/details/risks/cmc-20196351

SG 02.03.04