Impact of trainee experience on shave biopsy specimen size

Background: Skin biopsies are crucial for the diagnosis of many cutaneous pathologies, yet specimen adequacy is essential for definitive diagnosis. Recent literature has noted a trend in decreasing biopsy size over time, which has created concern over implications regarding adequacy for diagnosis. Methods: This study sought to evaluate if clinician training length or type of residency training impacted the average biopsy size and sample adequacy. Dermatopathology reports for shave biopsies between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021, at Penn State Health were queried through PathNet, the software application for pathology reports in this health system's electronic medical record system. Biopsy dimensions, volume, diagnosis, location, clinician training level, and descriptions of evaluation of deeper sections (recuts) and superficial sampling were recorded for each biopsy. Basic statistical calculations were performed to assess the mean and standard deviation for biopsy sizes per clinician group. Results: Differences in biopsy size between training levels were statistically significant despite qualitatively similar biopsy locations and final diagnosis categories for each clinician training group. After evaluating measures for sample adequacy, our data showed significantly smaller biopsies; however, overall frequencies were minimal. Additionally, more inadequate specimens were noted for clinician groups with the least amount of dermatology experience. Conclusions: The results of this study identify a correlation with decreasing biopsy size amidst increased experience in dermatology training but find no evidence to support that this trend currently threatens sample adequacy.



Work Title Impact of trainee experience on shave biopsy specimen size
Open Access
  1. Meaghan C. Dougher
  2. Melissa Butt
  3. Klaus F. Helm
  4. Matthew Helm
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. International Journal of Dermatology
Publication Date January 1, 2022
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited March 25, 2024




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Int_J_Dermatology_-_2022_-_Dougher_-_Impact_of_trainee_experience_on_shave_biopsy_specimen_size.pdf
  • Added Creator Meaghan C. Dougher
  • Added Creator Melissa Butt
  • Added Creator Klaus F. Helm
  • Added Creator Matthew Helm
  • Published
  • Updated