In many cases, our dermatologists can make a clinical diagnosis with confidence without the need for a skin biopsy. Dermatopathology is a subspecialty of dermatology that studies skin disease at a microscopic level. Although many skin diseases can be recognized by their clinical appearance, sometimes a skin biopsy is necessary to secure a diagnosis or to provide more information. This biopsy specimen is then examined under the microscope by a dermatolopathologist who looks at the disease at the cellular level.
Dermatopathology is a consultative service to the referring physician and not simply a laboratory test. An accurate microscopic interpretation of the biopsy is important in the selection of appropriate therapies. One of the greatest challenges of dermatopathology is the high number of different skin diseases. There are an estimated 1500 different rashes and skin tumors, including variants. All biopsies and surgical specimens are sent to laboratories where they are examined by a board-certified dermatopathogist, many of whom are board-certified dermatologists as well.