Versatile punch surgery

J Cutan Med Surg. 2011 Mar-Apr;15(2):87-96. doi: 10.2310/7750.2011.10002.


Punch instrument is a circular blade that can be used for many diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in different medical and surgical specialties. Punch surgery (or biopsy) is achieved by using this versatile punch blade under local anesthesia. Basic punch surgery is quick and easy to learn. Complications such as bleeding and infection are minimal. Diagnostic punch surgery can obtain a part of or whole skin lesion for histologic examination. In addition to the skin, nail and mucous membrane tissue can be obtained by punch biopsy. Interestingly, punch biopsy can be used as an adjunctive to fine-needle aspiration to establish the diagnosis of tumors of solid organ such as the breast. Diagnostic punch surgery can be modified to overcome certain problems. The split-punch technique helps avoid crushing the tissue punch when trying to divide it for different examinations. The double-trephine punch facilitates obtaining subcutaneous tissue without the need for full elliptical excision. The string-of-beads technique obviates the need for dissection of tissue into pieces. In other nondermatology and dermatology conditions, such as nerve pathology, arteriosclerosis, melanoma mapping, and eyelid tumors, the diagnosis can be enhanced with the use of punch surgery.Therapeutic punch surgery can be used for excision of unwanted lesions such as nevi, as well as pathologic bone and cartilage tissues. Punch grafting is used in vitiligo surgery and hair transplantion. Punch evacuative surgery can help in the evacuation of unwanted tissue or materials such as lipoma, subungual hematoma, scrotal calcinosis, pseudocyst of the auricle, pilar cyst, and others.Reconstructive punch surgery includes correction of ear lobe defects and acne scars. Enhancement of wound healing can be achieved by use of the punch; therefore, it can help nonhealing ulcers.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / instrumentation*
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Cicatrix / surgery
  • Ear Auricle / surgery
  • Humans
  • Minor Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / surgery*
  • Skin Transplantation / methods
  • Surgical Instruments*