What is a skin biopsy and how does it help the diagnostic process?
A skin biopsy is a technique in which skin lesions are removed and examined closely using a microscope by a dermatohistopathologist. Although many skin conditions can look similar to the naked eye, under the microscope there can be many differences in appearance which allow us to offer a definitive diagnosis or at least rule out other conditions.
When we remove skin lesions, we send them away to a dermatohistopathologist for examination. We’ve used the same dermatohistopathologist for the last 16 years and trust her judgement fully.
In some cases, we will resort to histopathology particularly in the investigation of hair loss, in disorders whether there is a lot of scale production or when a tumour is removed.
Skin biopsies are performed either under general anaesthesia or under sedation. Most cases will involve taking several punch biopsies, where a small piece of full thickness skin between 4-8mm in diameter is removed and placed in fixative solution.
The samples are then sent to the lab where the tissue is processed. The biopsy is embedded in paraffin wax and sections one cell thick are sliced off and mounted on a microscope slide. They are then stained with special stains prior to being examined.
As soon as we receive the results of the biopsy, we’ll notify you and endeavour to explain the result in as simple terms as possible. We’ll also notify you of the next course of action for your pet.