SDC Dermpath

FAQ

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT DERMATOPATHOLOGY LABORATORY SERVICES

Q. What is a dermatopathologist, and what exactly does he/she do?
A. A dermatopathologist is a doctor of medicine who, following medical school, and then three to five years in a pathology or dermatology residency program, spends one or two additional years in a training program devoted entirely towards the development of special competency in diagnostic skin pathology. During training, dermatopathologists also spend a certain amount of time examining patients with diverse skin disorders in order to learn how to correlate the clinical appearance of these disorders with the pathologic pattern seen under the microscope.

Q. What happens to my tissue once my doctor removes it?
A. After your physician obtains a sample (biopsy) of your skin, it will be placed in a solution of formalin for preservation. SDC couriers will retrieve the sample and bring it to our laboratory. There, your tissue sample may be sliced into several smaller pieces. These tissue slices will then be immersed into a number of chemical baths. The purpose of these baths is to remove water from the skin sample, and to replace the water with paraffin wax. Once the tissue is infiltrated with wax, a specially trained technician will slice it further into extremely thin sections so that the dermatopathologist will be able to examine your skin under the microscope. Microscopic examination will help your physician in formulating a plan of therapy. In some instances, the dermatopathologist may order additional special stains to assist him/her in visualizing infectious organisms, or to help identify markers on certain tumors.

If you have any questions concerning your biopsy results, please contact your dermatologist or surgeon.

Q. When should I expect to need the expertise of a Dermatopathologist?
A. There are several reasons that your dermatologist or surgeon may choose to send a sample of skin to a dermatopathologist.
1) Many rashes look alike to the naked eye. However, a dermatopathologist can usually differentiate one rash from another by examination of the skin under the microscope. With this specific information, your dermatologist will be able to prescribe the appropriate therapy.
2) Some benign pigmented lesions may appear malignant to the naked eye, and some malignant pigmented lesions may appear benign. Using the microscope, the dermatopathologist can differentiate benign lesions from malignant melanomas.
3) Using the microscope, the dermatopathologist is also able to distinguish benign tumors from malignant carcinomas, and can determine if the tumor has been fully excised.

Q. Is there an additional charge for the microscopic examination of my skin?
A. Yes. The dermatopathology fee includes charges for both the technical preparation of the specimen and the diagnostic microscopic examination and interpretation of your skin by the dermatopathologist. This fee is for a professional service like that of any other physician. If you have any questions concerning your statement, please contact SDC’s billing office for further assistance.