The use of special stains at two dermatopathology laboratories in East Africa

S Kiprono, J Muchunu andH Beltraminelli
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Histopathology is often essential to establish an accurate diagnosis. Pathology laboratories are scarce in most Sub-Saharan Africa where dermatopathology is a developing field. In resource-poor countries, most specimens are analysed only after haematoxylin and eosin staining. The availability of special stains is very limited and restricted to only few centres. The aim of this study is to analyze the extent of dermatopathological cases which can be adequately diagnosed after haematoxylin and eosin alone. Secondly, to investigate which cases required further special stains.


All skin specimens submitted to two University Hospitals (Tanzania and Kenya) were included in this study. All specimens were first analyzed with haematoxylin and eosin and a diagnosis established when possible. All cases in which an accurate diagnosis after haematoxylin and eosin only was not possible, were registered and evaluated after further special stains.


A total of 386 specimens were examined. A proper histopathologic diagnosis with haematoxylin and eosin alone was possible in 344 (89.1%) samples. In 45 (11.6%) cases, mostly skin infections, further special stains were necessary.


A proper histopathologic diagnosis was possible after haematoxylin and eosin alone in almost 90% of the specimens submitted to the two laboratories in Sub-Saharan Africa.