Diagnostic impact and sensitivity of skin biopsies in Sneddon's syndrome. A report of 15 cases

Br J Dermatol. 2001 Aug;145(2):285-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2001.04348.x.


Background: Sneddon's syndrome is defined as a combination of idiopathic livedo racemosa generalisata and symptoms of cerebrovascular defect. The disease usually starts with vascular symptoms in the epidermis, with neurological deficits becoming evident later. For this reason, histological examination of skin biopsies and determination of arteriolar occlusion is of particular importance for reliable categorization and early diagnosis. To date, these methods have been considered to be too insensitive.

Objectives: To evaluate the sensitivity of skin biopsies in Sneddon's syndrome.

Methods: We took a total of five deep punch biopsies (4 mm) from different areas of the livedo (three from white and two from red areas) in 15 patients. Present knowledge of the pathogenic relationships and the particular anatomical features of the skin were taken into account.

Results: The method had a sensitivity of 27% with one biopsy, 53% with two biopsies and 80% with three biopsies taken from white areas in all cases.

Conclusions: Skin biopsies using the method presented achieved a high sensitivity, suggesting that the diagnosis in clinically suspected cases could be confirmed in the majority of cases with this technique.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Biopsy / standards
  • Coloring Agents
  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
  • Female
  • Hematoxylin
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Sneddon Syndrome / pathology*


  • Coloring Agents
  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
  • Hematoxylin