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What does a successful dermatopathologist need?

Dr. Mona Abdel-Halim


[center][b][i]Mona R.E. Abdel Halim[/i][/b][/center]
[center][b][i]MD Dermatology, Diploma of Dermatopathology (ICDP-UEMS)[/i][/b][/center]

Dermatopathology is a very challenging discipline that requires complete dedication, extensive practice and continuous reading. However, the most important tool each dermatopathologist need is the ability to achieve good clinical correlation.
The clinical picture to a dermatopathologist is equivalent to the gross pathology of a specimen sent to a general pathologist. Many inflammatory skin diseases share the same tissue reaction pattern and a definite diagnosis can’t be established without clinical correlation.

Accordingly, dermatopathologists should be acquainted with the clinical presentation of different skin diseases. Clinicians should write detailed description of the clinical condition in their referral sheet. New technologies can help nowadays with the availability of high resolution cameras, even in mobile phones, facilitating rapid capturing of clinical photos to be sent to the dermatopathologist. A hot line of communication should be maintained between dermatopathologists and clinicians to obtain better interpretation of biopsy results.

In some cases, I find it more helpful to examine the patient by myself, listen to history details, and search for the best representative lesion. Sometimes, I like to take biopsies from more than one lesion especially in conditions presenting with polymorphic eruption, or in cases showing lesions with different stages of evolution as histopathological features vary with the ages of the lesions. Clinicopathological correlation is mandatory in establishing a definite diagnosis in many dermatological conditions.


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Dr. Phillip McKee


I really like the idea of sending the clinical photographs to the dermatopathologist. It would be so helpful and it would make the experience more rewarding. However, one word of caution, so many folk seem to have no idea how to take decent high resolution photographs. I receive a lot of clinical images from friends all around the world and far too many are out of focus, have a really bad color balance or are pixilated. I think a little training in photography wouldn't go amiss.
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Dr. Hafeez Diwan


Yes, I completely agree. Clinical info and good images go a long way. Where I practice, we have excellent residents and fellows who take superb pictures. The technology available to us in our cellphones is really quite amazing. When I get cases, like we all do, without the appropriate information, I feel quite stymied.
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Achieving a good clinical correlation is important for a dermatopathologist. But it's even more important in this field, because "the clinical picture to a dermatopathologist is equivalent to the gross pathology of a specimen sent to a general pathologist". Completely agree with you, Mona.

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