In many cases for the final diagnosis, a cell or tissue sample (biopsy) is required. While for this purpose operations had to be performed in the past, today we can use minimally invasive techniques. Depending on the problem and the affected organ, this frequently requires no anesthesia or just a mild sedative.
There are several indications, why taking skin biopsies is helpful or necessary. Therefore, after a local anesthesic has been injected in the affected area either a punch (in most cases about 8mm diameter) or an elliptic excision biopsy will be performed. Afterwards the lesion will be sewn up and the patient can go home. After adquate Fixation, enbedding, cutting and staining, the sampled tissue can be examined by a histopathologist and thus a in many diseases a clear diagnosis can be made. In relaxed patients, no full anesthesia or sedation is needed to perform this procedure. Only the affected sample area will be anesthesized, to make sure, the patient feels no pain. Few exceptions exist such as areas (face or paws), at which animals are very sensitive and might panic.
There is a special version of skin biopsies called "shave biopsy", where only superficial skin areas will be taken and the depth will keep untouched. This is very helpful at thin areas such as the ear pinnea.
Possible indications for skin biopsy sampling are (amongst others):
- suspected immunemediated / autoimmune diseas
- suspected neoplasia
- therapy-resistant disease
- atypical disease forms
- proof of a suspected disease, which can not be diagnosed by any other testing method
- in cases where time plays a role and a soon result is needed or other diagnostics take several weeks until results are back (such as fungal infections)