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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Feb 20. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2018-0239-RA. [Epub ahead of print]

Dermatologic Urgencies and Emergencies: What Every Pathologist Should Know.

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From the Department of Dermatology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri (Dr Abate);the Departments of Dermatology (Dr Battle),and Pathology (Drs Gardner and Shalin),University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock; and the Department of Dermatology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson (Dr Emerson).



Fatal dermatologic diseases and ones with high morbidity can occur in the inpatient setting. In such cases, prompt and accurate assessment of a bedside skin biopsy is required. This may be challenging for many pathologists who are not familiar with the complexity of skin pathology and skin terminology within the fields of dermatopathology and dermatology.


To provide the pathologist with a practical, up-to-date, and "must-know" reference guide on dermatologic urgencies and emergencies from a real-world perspective, highlighting diagnostic pearls, diagnostic pitfalls, and commonly encountered practice gaps. This review will focus on key diseases with which every pathologist should be familiar, including angioinvasive fungal infections, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, staph-scalded-skin syndrome, acute graft-versus-host disease, bullous pemphigoid, calciphylaxis, Sweet syndrome and its histiocytoid variant, pyoderma gangrenosum, and leukocytoclastic vasculitis, as well as those in their clinical and histopathologic differential.


This review is based on peer-reviewed literature and our personal experiences with these diseases at major academic institutions, including one where a large number of stem cell transplants are performed. This review is unique as it represents collaborative expert opinion from both a dermatopathology and a dermatology standpoint.


This review outlines the critical role that the pathologist plays in the outcomes of patients with dermatologic urgencies and emergencies. Improved patient care will result from prompt and accurate histopathologic diagnoses as well as an open line of communication with the dermatologist.


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