Clinical Case Database / Category: Patient Management

The pigmented skin lesion: the role of biopsy in dermatology

Publication details

Dr J I O Abiola MBBS, BSc, Dr B A Esdaile MBBS, BSc, MRCP, Dr R Ratnavel MA, MBBS, DM, FRCP
Foundation Years Journal, volume 4, issue 10, p.5 (123Doc Education, London, January 2011)


Diagnostic skin biopsies play an essential role in dermatology and provide information that can be correlated with the clinical impression to give a diagnosis. We discuss the presentation and management of two patients with pigmented skin lesions in order to highlight some important principles of skin biopsy. The biopsy strategies varied in each case due to the clinical impression, the size and site of the lesion. Excisional biopsy is the method of choice for clinically suspicious lesions. Other methods such as incisional biopsy, punch biopsy or curettage may be used for benign or pre-malignant lesions depending on lesion characteristics and patient preference.

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Dr J I O Abiola MBBS, BSc

Foundation doctor
Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr B A Esdaile MBBS, BSc, MRCP

Dermatology Registrar
Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr R Ratnavel MA, MBBS, DM, FRCP

Consultant dermatologist
Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust


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T​he Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database is​ a selection of 600 peer-reviewed clinical cases in the field of patient safety and clinical practice, specifically focused on the clinical information needs of junior doctors, based around the Foundation Year Curriculum programme (MMC). The cases have been chosen to align with the Foundation Year Curriculum.

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