Skin Biopsies and Dermatopathology

A skin biopsy is the removal of a piece of skin for the purpose of further examination in the laboratory using a microscope. A skin biopsy can help to diagnose a variety of conditions and give your pet’s veterinarian more information about the skin.

Skin biopsies are obtained using a combination of local anesthetic and sedation. Sometimes, skin biopsies from certain areas of the body need to be obtained under general anesthesia.

A punch biopsy takes a piece of the skin and can be used to remove small lesions and diagnose rashes and other skin conditions. Excisional biopsies are usually larger and deeper and are used to completely remove an abnormal area of skin (lesion) such as in a skin cancer. After the biopsy, the skin sample is fixed in a special solution and stained for examination. The doctor (usually a Veterinary Dermatologist or Pathologist) can then evaluate the appearance of the skin under a microscope for normal and abnormal conditions. Sometimes specialized stains are used looking for antibodies and immune proteins.