Novel Use of Preoperative Epidermal Coloring of Very Small Dermatological Specimens—Protocol for Reduction of Lost Specimens

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Small tissue biopsies are often difficult to visualize and can be easily lost or mishandled. The authors hypothesized that full epidermal surface coloration of small skin lesions with a sterile skin marker (gentian violet ink) before performing shave biopsy would make small gross specimens easier to identify without impacting microscopic appearance. Live evaluation of 4 inked and 4 noninked gross (2–3 mm) specimens in covered and uncovered formalin-containing jars by 50 consecutive health care personnel demonstrated that inked specimens were significantly (P < 0.001) easier to visualize than noninked specimens. Additionally, a blinded dermatopathologist evaluated 25 inked and 25 noninked specimens microscopically. Utilization of this inking process did not interfere with histopathologic assessment or impede diagnosis. This pilot study describes an easily implementable quality improvement measure that may decrease the rate of loss and mishandling of specimens.

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