Diagnostic Studies: Biopsy: Skin Lesions

The 26 Review

  • What is a Skin Lesion Biopsy  A skin lesion biopsy is a simple medical procedure in which a sample of the skin is removed and tested in a laboratory
  • How There are a few types of skin lesion biopsies. Those include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, excisional and incisional biopsies 
  • Why  Podiatrists perform skin biopsies to help determine the cause of a growth, sore, or rash
  • Recommended For  Patients who have unexplained skin spots, growths, wounds, blisters, rashes, and/or infections

Let’s take a closer look…

A skin lesion biopsy is a simple medical procedure in which a sample of the patient’s skin is removed and tested in a laboratory. The sample removed during a biopsy is oftentimes the size of a grain of rice. The sample size just needs to be large enough for a laboratory technician to examine under a microscope. There are several ways a medical professional can collect skin samples. Those include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, excisional and incisional biopsies. Typically, a skin lesion biopsy is performed to pinpoint the cause of a growth, rash, wound, blister, and/or infection.

What to Expect

A skin lesion biopsy requires very little preparation from the patient. The method of tissue removal will depend on the reason for the biopsy, location, size, and type of lesion. Before any type of biopsy, the patient will receive local anesthesia to numb the biopsy site. As previously mentioned there a few types of biopsies that can be conducted. The first is a shave biopsy and during this procedure the doctor will only remove the outermost layers of skin with a sterile razor blade or scalpel. During a punch biopsy, the doctor will use a small, tube-like instrument that works like a cookie cutter to take a small skin sample. The area will be closed with a single stitch after the sample is retrieved. An excisional biopsy is performed to remove the entire lesion. The doctor will create an incision and go as deep as necessary to remove the entire lesion. At the end of this biopsy, several stitches will be used to close the wound. Finally, during an incisional biopsy, the procedure is conducted the same as an excisional biopsy, however only a small portion of a larger lesion is extracted. The sample or samples collected after the biopsy will be sent to the lab for testing and the wound will be covered with gauze or other bandaging. Regardless of the type of biopsy, patients can return home once the sample has been taken. The results take 1-2 weeks to be processed by the laboratory and patients will return to the office to discuss the results with the doctor.

Pros and Cons

Biopsies in the podiatry field are often diagnostic procedures used to evaluate abnormalities of the skin, nails, and soft tissues of the feet and ankles. The main benefit of a biopsy is that it provides definitive diagnosis, allowing for appropriate treatment to take place. Biopsies can also help identify the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells, which is crucial to the health and safety of patients. However, there can also be some drawbacks associated with biopsies. They can be invasive and may cause slight discomfort or pain during and/or after the procedure. In rare cases, a biopsy may lead to an infection, bleeding, or nerve damage. In addition, there may be scarring or changes in skin pigmentation at the biopsy site. It is crucial to speak with your medical professional about all the potential risks and benefits prior to receiving a biopsy. 

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