Dermatopathology is a subspecialty of pathology.
- Pathology is the study of diseases. It includes the study of the causes, course and progression and the complications that arise from the disease.
- Anatomic pathology, or histopathology, refers to the study of the structural and compositional changes that occur in organs and tissues as a result of disease.
- A pathologist is a doctor trained in anatomic pathology that examines, describes, and interprets pathological specimens to arrive at a specific finding or diagnosis.
- Dermatopathology is the study and description of structural and compositional changes that occur in skin disease.
From a practical point of view, dermatopathology involves the microscopic examination, description, and interpretation of biopsy specimens obtained from the skin. This is usually carried out by a general pathologist (who may or may not have had specific training in dermatopathology) or by a dermatopathologist (a doctor trained specifically in dermatopathology). Dermatopathologists often have training in clinical dermatology.
The interpretation of skin specimens can be complicated and difficult, as many diverse inflammatory skin diseases share the same basic inflammatory process or pattern. The final diagnosis requires clinical input and clinicopathological correlation.