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Skin biopsy techniques

Patrick C Alguire, MD, FACP
Barbara M Mathes, MD, FACP, FAAD
Section Editors
Russell S Berman, MD
Stanley J Miller, MD
Deputy Editor
Rosamaria Corona, MD, DSc


The skin biopsy is a relatively simple but essential procedure in the management of skin disorders [1]. The most commonly performed biopsy procedures are reviewed here.


More errors are made from failing to biopsy promptly than from performing unnecessary biopsies. Nevertheless, many dermatoses have nonspecific histopathology, and biopsy cannot substitute for good clinical skills [2-4]. Biopsy is indicated in the following circumstances (table 1) [2,4,5]:

All suspected neoplastic lesions

All bullous disorders

To clarify a diagnosis when a limited number of entities are under consideration

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 02, 2015.
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