Pathologic Evaluation of Skin Tumors With Ex Vivo Dermoscopy With Derm Dotting

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Ex vivo dermoscopy (EVD) with derm dotting (DD) improves clinicopathologic correlation and the quality of diagnosis in skin tumors.


To compare the diagnostic performance of the standard method of skin biopsy processing with the practice of EVD with DD.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This retrospective study compares the diagnostic performance in 6526 skin biopsy specimens examined from 2008 to 2010 with a standard method of processing with 8584 biopsy specimens examined in 2015 with EVD and DD. Data were analyzed from January 1 to March 31, 2016. A total of 15 110 skin biopsy specimens were included. The biopsy specimens from 2008 to 2010 were processed in a hospital-based general pathology laboratory; the biopsy specimens from 2015 were processed in a private dermatopathology laboratory. Biopsy specimens from both periods were diagnosed by the same dermatopathologist.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcome measures were clinicopathological characteristics, usefulness of EVD with DD, and turnaround times (TATs).


Use of EVD with DD increased the detection of positive section margins in nonmelanoma skin cancer from 8.4% to 12.8%. The most significant increase was seen in Bowen disease, invasive squamous cell carcinoma, and a superficial type of basal cell carcinoma (BCC). With EVD and DD, a specific clinicopathologic diagnosis was made in 27.7% of nevi compared with only 10.3% using the standard method. The incidence of moderately and severely dysplastic nevi increased from 1.0% to 7.2% and from 0.6% to 1.4%, respectively. The detection of ulceration in melanomas with thicker than 1 mm increased from 24.0% to 31.3%. The number of nevi-associated melanomas increased from 15.5% to 33.3%. The number of collision lesions from 0.07% to 1.07%. The TAT for nevi decreased from 2 days to 1 day, for melanomas from 5 days to 2 days, and for BCC from 2 days to 1 day.

Conclusions and Relevance

Ex vivo dermoscopy and DD with adapted sectioning in a dermatopathology setting allows a more accurate and less time consuming histopathologic diagnosis of skin tumors. These findings suggest that pathologists involved in skin tumor evaluation should be encouraged to learn dermoscopy and replace random transverse cutting with lesion-specific and DD-guided cutting.

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