Shave and punch biopsy for skin lesions

Am Fam Physician. 2011 Nov 1;84(9):995-1002.


Shave and punch biopsies are essential procedures for physicians who manage skin conditions. These office-based procedures can diagnose questionable dermatologic lesions, including possible malignancies. Approaches include the superficial shave biopsy, saucerization excision, punch biopsy, and elliptical excision. A superficial shave biopsy can be used for raised lesions. A saucerization biopsy may be performed for flat or pigmented lesions. Punch biopsies yield full-thickness samples and can be used for lesions that require dermal or subcutaneous tissue for diagnosis. Indications for biopsy of suspected melanoma remain controversial. Sufficient tissue may be obtained with the quicker, less costly saucerization biopsy or the more time-consuming, invasive elliptical excisional biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Dermatology / methods
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • General Surgery / methods
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / diagnosis
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*