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Skin Biopsy in the Diagnosis of Hansen's Disease

Skin Biopsy in the Diagnosis of Hansen's Disease

Protocol and Form for Submitting Specimens for Evaluation of Hansen's Disease

Skin Biopsy Protocol and Form (PDF - 413 KB)

Testing is performed free of charge to patients and facilities within the United States and its territories. Consultations are performed on a first come, first serve basis and turnaround time is based on current workload.

Biopsy:

  • Biopsy should be collected with a 4–5 mm punch and specimen should be deep enough to include subcutaneous fat.
  • Take biopsy from active margin of a lesion if possible.
  • Samples that are too small may not yield accurate results & a new biopsy may be suggested.

Consultation consists of two parts:

  1. PCR testing for M. leprae and M. lepromatosis
    • PCR testing can ONLY be performed from formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue (block) or formalin fixed tissue that we can process into a paraffin block.
    • Testing cannot be performed from slides.
    • For best PCR results, tissue should not remain in formalin for more than 24 hours.
    • Use overnight shipping to avoid prolonged exposure to formalin.
    • Packages are only received during weekdays. We are closed for all federal holidays.
  2. Secondary pathology review
    • Five unstained slides from the tissue block are required for staining at NHDP.
    • H&E and Fite stains may also be submitted for histological review.
    • Obtaining initial pathology review before sending is strongly recommended.

Drug resistance testing can also be performed from this same formalin fixed paraffin embedded specimen. This must be clearly requested on the consultation request form.

Send the sample and consultation request form to the address listed at the bottom of the form. 

Please refer to the printer friendly link for more detailed information and form for submission.

If you have questions or require further assistance, contact:

National Hansen’s Disease Program Clinical Laboratory
9181 Interline Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Phone: 225-756-3733
Fax: 225-756-3734

Mara Dacso, M.D., M.S.
Dermatopathologist
Email: mbracha@hrsa.gov

Nurah Al-Ahmed, HTL(ASCP)CM
Histotechnologist
Email: nal-ahmed@hrsa.gov

Date Last Reviewed:  August 2021


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Note: Persons using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, please email For assistance, please email nhdped@hrsa.gov or call 225-756-3761.

National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program - Caring & Curing Since 1894