Skin biopsy (punch type)
Your child is scheduled for a skin biopsy (by-op-see) at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
Check-in time: __________________________
Please bring your insurance card with you.
___ Children's – Minneapolis
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
___ Children's - St. Paul
345 North Smith Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
What is a skin biopsy?
A skin biopsy is taking a sample of skin to grow for examination and testing.
Can I be with my child during the procedure?
You are welcome to stay with your child during the whole procedure. It will last about 30 minutes.
What should we do before the test?
Read and discuss this information with your child. Explain how the procedure is done, especially what your child will see and feel. Answer as many questions as you can.
Children may find it helpful to bring comfort items such as a favorite toy, blanket, or pacifier.
If the procedure is scheduled right after mealtime, a light meal would be best. No special diet is required.
What will happen during the skin biopsy?
The doctor will explain the procedure and ask for your consent for the skin biopsy and testing.
Your child will lie down on the examination table, usually on his or her side. Blankets are used to make your child as comfortable as possible.
The doctor will choose an area for the biopsy, either just above the elbow or on the back near the scapula (shoulder blade). The doctor will inject the area with lidocaine (numbing medicine) using a very small needle, creating a slightly raised area called a "bleb." There will be a few seconds of discomfort when the lidocaine is given.
The doctor will clean the skin with either alcohol or iodine swabs using a circular motion. If iodine was used, it will be washed from the site with sterile water because iodine could interfere with the test.
The doctor will put on sterile gloves and then drape the area with sterile towels to keep it as clean as possible.
Using a skin biopsy tool that looks like a pencil without an eraser, the doctor will remove a small circle-shaped piece of skin where the lidocaine was injected. This should not hurt. The skin sample is then placed in a special solution called "medium," that will help the skin cells to grow.
What can I expect after the biopsy?
Gauze and pressure will be applied to limit any bleeding. Any remaining iodine will be cleaned off with sterile water. A small amount of antibiotic ointment will be applied to the site and a bandage will be put on.
Your child will be able to eat, drink and be as active as usual after the procedure.
How should I care for my child?
Keep the site clean and dry for 48 hours (2 days).
Change the bandage daily for 2 days:
- Wash your hands well with soap and water, or use an alcohol hand sanitizer.
- Remove the old bandage. Look at the wound and any drainage on old bandage.
- Wash hands again.
- Gently clean the wound with antibacterial soap and water. Clean using a circular motion. Pat dry after cleaning.
- Check for signs of infection (see "When should I call the clinic?").
- After cleaning, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment and put on an adhesive bandage.
After 2 days, do not use ointment or a bandage. Leaving the site open to air will help it heal. Continue to watch for signs of infection.
Most scabs itch while healing. To prevent infection and decrease scarring, try to keep your child from scratching it. Using gloves, mitts, or socks on your child's hands may help prevent scratching. If needed, cover the scab during the day and leave it open to air at night.
What else do I need to know?
A small scar may form at the site of the skin biopsy. For 1 year after the wound heals, apply sunscreen when in the sun to prevent darkening of the scar.
The results of some tests can take a few months. The doctor will discuss the time line and results with you.
When should I call the clinic?
Call your primary clinic if any signs of infection occur:
- increasing redness or swelling
- red streaks coming from wound
- more pain
- bad smell from wound
- pus or other drainage from wound
- fever higher than 101° F (38.3° C)
This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. For questions about why your child is being tested, please ask your child's doctor. If you have questions about how to prepare your child or for more information about the procedure, please call the clinic.
Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright
This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.
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