Skin Biopsy – Q & A with Shawn Messonnier, DVM

Q::”When do you recommend a skin biopsy? My cat Felix has crusty skin around her mouth and is not improving with her therapy (antibiotics and steroids.) A friend asked if her doctor had recommended a skin biopsy, but so far he has not. Is this something I should have done for her? She has had this problem for over 2 months.”

A: ”In my opinion, a skin biopsy is a very valuable tool in medicine. Unfortunately, it is seldom used by many doctors. A biopsy is a simple procedure that can be done in most cases with mild sedation or light anesthesia combined with a small dose of a local anesthetic. The procedure usually takes about five minutes, and in most cases stitches are not even necessary. While not always 100% diagnostic, in most cases a skin biopsy is the best test that can be done to determine the cause of your pet’s skin condition. I recommend a skin biopsy in several instances. First, if the skin lesions look strange and not typical of common skin disorders. Second, any time a pet has not responded to what I think should be the “correct” therapy. Finally, anytime I see a pet with a chronic skin disease (usually several months old) that has not improved or has worsened. I would suggest talking with your cat’s doctor as enough time has transpired for her to improve by now with the therapies your doctor has used for treatment.

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Written by Shawn Messonnier DVM

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