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    Biopsy process helps pathologist determine accurate diagnosis

    Vertical sectioning allows visualization of an entire follicle, but fewer follicles in number.




    Helping a dermatopathologist reach the right diagnosis requires using the right biopsy, labeling and tissue transport techniques.

    When a dermatopathologist examines a sample, says Jan Izakovic, M.D., limitations often lie in technical details such as how the specimen was taken, how big it is, and how it's preserved and transported.

    Read: Lab, clinical background key in pediatric dermatopathology

    "Pathologists would get specimens sent in with a specific question, and they'd say, 'The way you sent it in, I can't do the examination you want done," Dr. Izakovic says. He is a voluntary associate professor of dermatology at the University of Miami and a Basel, Switzerland-based dermatologist who consults in pediatric dermatology at the University Children's Hospital of Basel.

    Dallas-based dermatologist and dermatopathologist Clay J. Cockerell, M.D., says that often, "We get samples submitted without any age, and age is important," partly because children are more commonly biopsied for suspected genetic disorders than are adults. Occasionally, "We get shave biopsies of panniculitis or alopecia. These do not sample the area where the pathology is located. We also occasionally get specimens for culture or immunofluorescences submitted in formaldehyde, which renders them both worthless."

    John Jesitus
    John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.


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