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Dental school students introduced to oral biopsies, learn life-saving potential of biopsies

All-day seminar part of Bianco Lectureship Series

Dental school students introduced to oral biopsies, learn life-saving potential of biopsies

Dr. Henry BiancoThe Dr. Henry Bianco Lectureship Series at West Virginia University School of Dentistry is named for the former interim dean, clinical dean and chair of the prosthodontics department who was a staple at the dental school from 1967 to 1995.

Each of four seminars throughout the 2021-2022 series is hosted by both dental school faculty and guests who bring specialized skills and extended knowledge to doctor of dental surgery students.

In October, fourth-year students participated in a seminar devoted solely to oral biopsy procedures.

The dental school’s Diagnostic Sciences department, which offers an oral medicine clinic, provides clinical services for the diagnosis of and non-surgical management of a variety of issues including ulcerative conditions, secondary oral complications from cancer treatment methods and sensory disorders. The department’s oral and maxillofacial pathology laboratory operates a biopsy service focusing on the microscopic examination of specimens taken from the oral and maxillofacial region.

“We provide a biopsy service for West Virginia patients and beyond. The purpose of the biopsy service is to diagnose cancer. In addition, we identify conditions such as infection, inflammatory lesions and autoimmune disorders,” said oral pathologist and assistant professor Dr. Hiba Qari.

From 2017 to 2021, Qari and oral pathologist and clinical professor Dr. Jerry Bouquot saw the biopsy service experience an average increase of 148%.

Students, faculty and staff participate in a biopsy lecture series with hands on experience. The all-day course began with a morning lecture provided by Qari and Dr. Bryan Whitaker, interim department chair, assistant professor and oral pathologist. The afternoon session involved performing practice biopsies on pig heads under the direction of Dr. Juan Bugueno, and oral surgery intern Dr. Brett Barnette and oral surgery resident Dr. Richard J. Stuart.

A Class of 2022 dental student shared a positive anonymous review of the seminar. “Actually performing a biopsy incision was great.”

Seminar participants gleamed a lot of information in the session. It was designed to teach future providers how to:

  1. distinguish between normal oral tissues and lesional tissues that may appear pathologic
  2. define the indications and contraindications for a biopsy
  3. describe the various techniques for performing both soft and hard tissue biopsies
  4. determine location and orientation of the various biopsy procedures
  5. perform excisional and incisional soft tissue biopsies
  6. complete a biopsy requisition form and prepare a sample for mailing to the lab
  7. describe the different components of a laboratory report
  8. communicate the findings of a laboratory report with a patient/guardian tailored to an individual’s station in life and personality in a simulated environment
  9. determine a course of action for the patient based on the laboratory report findings

While the demonstrations included hands on skills, the seminar focused on communication with patients about the biopsy procedure and diagnosis.

Another student participant shared, “The patient interaction opened my eyes to how difficult it will be to inform the patient of their diagnosis.”

One hundred percent of the DDS students who attended the biopsy seminar strongly agreed or agreed that the seminar provided information and skills that can be applied to their role as a health care provider.

Each year, WVU Dental oral pathologists diagnose an average of 25 cases of various oral cancers each year, an average of 30 cases of odontogenic tumors and cysts and an average of 40 cases of pre-cancers.

“It is important to know how to perform a biopsy to ensure accurate representation of the tissue and prevent false-negative results that may have an impact on patient care. Through and accurate and correct diagnosis, we are able to provide the best treatment possible to our patients,” Qari said.

The Dr. Henry Bianco Lectureship Series also features sessions on Facial Esthetics/ Botox, Lasers and IV/Venipuncture technique.