Ultraviolet-Fluorescent Tattoo Location of Cutaneous Biopsy Site

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Abstract

Background

Cutaneous biopsies often heal with little or no scarring. Prior studies have shown an alarming percentage of patients who incorrectly identify biopsy sites at the time of surgery.

Objective

To investigate the safety and utility of an ultraviolet (UV)-fluorescent tattoo for biopsy site identification.

Materials and Methods

A preclinical proof of concept was established with skin culture. An UV-fluorescent tattoo was applied to discarded neonatal foreskin in culture medium. The stability of the tattooed skin was examined clinically and histologically. One patient with a recurrent basal cell carcinoma in a difficult-to-identify location underwent tattoo application at the time of biopsy to demarcate the site. The patient was monitored for tattoo reaction and referred for surgical excision.

Results

The cultured tissue exhibited stable UV fluorescence with daily washing. Tissue histology demonstrated tattoo particles lining the skin edge under fluorescent microscopy. The patient was reluctant to undergo another surgical procedure and instead returned to our clinic at 3 months and 17 months after the biopsy for management of other tumors. The patient had no symptoms of allergic reaction to the tattoo dye. The fluorescent tattoo remains invisible under visible light and visible only under Wood's light.

Conclusion

The present study documents the utility of an UV-fluorescent tattoo to locate a biopsy site.

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