What is Dermatopathology?
Dermatopathology is a subspecialty of dermatology and surgical pathology that involves the study of cutaneous diseases at a microscopic level. It also involves the study of potential causes of nail, skin, or hair disorders at a cellular level. While some skin disorders may be able to be diagnosed based on appearance, sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed. Further testing may be performed on biopsies, which fall under the category of dermatopathology. These specialists will carefully examine the layers of the skin, including the epidermis, dermis, and fascia to diagnose a skin condition.
There are more than 1,500 disorders of the skin, which can range from rashes to cancers. Dermatopathology is a broad field that requires dermatopathologists to work with a variety of different physicians and specialists. They must be familiar with a number of medical specialties, and be able to combine the information given to them from other members of the clinical community with the information they discovered from microscopic observation to make a proper diagnosis.
Certification in dermatopathology in the United States requires the completion of a medical degree, followed by residency training of three years in dermatology or three years in anatomic pathology (often completed as part of a four-year combined residency in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology). Thereafter, an additional one or two years of post-residency education in dermatopathology is undertaken.
In the United States, dermatopathology is practiced in a variety of settings. Some biopsies are interpreted by the dermatologists who obtained them, some are sent to pathology laboratories and interpreted either by general pathologists or dermatopathologists, while others are interpreted at specialized dermatopathology laboratories.
At HMGS Dermatology, we are fortunate to have our own Board Certified Dermatopathologist in Dr. Warren Heymann. We collaborate and confer regularly at the microscope in order to best provide the proper care to our patients.
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