The Dermatopathology Institute analyzes the current stories making headlines in dermatology with a viewpoint from the microscope, helping you to truly understand all of the nuances of the disease.
Hope you all had a great summer. With the cooler weather upon us, it is more important than ever to continue sun-protective practices and not be lulled into complacency.
The Dermatopathology Institute
How Can a Dermatopathologist Help Me?
|What is Lupus?
The tragic death of Michael Jackson brought to light a medical condition that not many people knew he was afflicted-lupus.
What is lupus? It is an autoimmune disorder where the body produces antibodies and other immune cells that attack normal tissues causing significant damage and may eventually lead to death, especially if proper treatment is not obtained. The patient in the photo above is suffers from one of variants of lupus known as discoid lupus erythematosus. In this variant, the body attacks its own skin causing scarring and lightening of the skin. This lightening can be particularly disfiguring in darker skinned individuals.
While the clinical presentation of lupus is striking, there are other diseases that may clinically mimic this disease. The only definitive way to establish the diagnosis is to biopsy the affected skin. A dermatopathologist is able to review the complex pathology to arrive at the correct diagnosis. A typical biopsy is depicted to the left under the featured article. The dermatopathologist may also utilize specialized testing known as direct immunofluorescence to examine for the presence of antibodies, one of the components of the immune system that is responsible for the damage to the skin.
Medical Terms You Should Know
An autoimmune disease is a cruel trick of nature. The body's normal immune system loses its ability to recognize its own cells
and attacks itself. The result is a devastating disease process which
spares no organ. This group of diseases is sometimes referred to as
collagen vascular diseases because the soft tissue supporting tissues
and blood vessels are frequently attacked. Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder striking every organ system.
Its many presentations can mimic many diseases. This disease requires close
cooperation between the treating physician and the pathologist.