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Panniculitis refers to a group of conditions that involve inflammation of the fat under the skin. Despite having very diverse causes, most forms of panniculitis have the same clinical appearance. The diagnosis is established by a skin biopsy as there are characteristic microscopic features depending on the cause.

The classification of panniculitis is complicated but, in general, different types can be divided into mostly septal or mostly lobular panniculitis depending on where the microscopic inflammation is most concentrated. In reality, most types of panniculitis have both lobular and septal inflammation. Further classification is based on whether or not there is inflammation involving the blood vessels of the fat, i.e. vasculitis.

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