Use of Skin Biopsies Among Dermatologists

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Skin biopsies are essential to establish a diagnosis in many skin diseases. Utilization has been increasing rapidly and represents a significant health care cost. There are no benchmarks or baselines to guide the practice of skin biopsies.

OBJECTIVE

To create a reference data set of biopsy behavior among dermatologists.

METHODS

Five hundred eighty-eight dermatologists belonging to the American Dermatological Association (ADA) were surveyed. Two hundred eighty-seven responded with 128 of those providing biopsy data.

RESULTS

The mean percentage of biopsies that were malignant was 44.5%. This varied by subspecialty with a mean of 41.7%, 57.4%, and 4.1% of biopsies performed by general dermatologists, Mohs micrographic surgeons, and pediatric dermatologists, respectively. By category or diagnosis, the biopsies were 22.7% basal cell carcinoma, 12.0% SCC, 10.2% benign neoplasms, 10.0% nevi, 8.0% actinic keratosis, 7.6% seborrheic keratosis, 7.5% inflammatory disorders, 6.1% SCC in situ, 5.3% dysplastic nevus, 5.1% benign skin, 1.5% melanoma in situ, 1.4% melanoma, 0.9% lentigines, 0.8% other malignancies, 0.6% infectious, 0.2% not otherwise specified, and 0.1% atypical lesions. There was a statistically significant difference in biopsy results between different dermatological subspecialties.

CONCLUSION

These results should help elucidate dermatologic practice patterns and thus create opportunities to improve dermatologic care and reduce health care costs.

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